One day shy of a year after announcing his decision to join the powerful Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant has accepted a major pay cut to help make sure they stay winners and chase more championships.
Durant wants to build a dynasty alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, agreeing to terms today on a contract worth approximately $US53 million over the next two years.
The deal, which won't become official until the end of the free agency moratorium period on Friday (NZ time), is worth about $25 million in the first year, with a player option for the second season.
As he planned all along to provide the Warriors with financial flexibility, Durant waited as Golden State general manager Bob Myers signed the other free agents - Curry for a record $201 million over five years, 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala on a three-year contract with $48 million guaranteed, fellow key reserves Shaun Livingston for $24 million and three years, and veteran David West on a one-year deal with a minimum $2.3 million.
Durant declined to opt for the $27.7 million second year of his previous deal with the Warriors and become an unrestricted free agent. The move was expected, as Durant did his part to keep the core of the star-studded roster intact.
He could have signed a max deal that would have paid him millions more next season.
When the season ended, Durant made it clear he wasn't going anywhere. The 28-year-old had been projected to earn a 20 percent raise over the $26.5 million he made last season, which would have been about $31.8 million.
Durant missed 19 games with a left knee injury, before returning late in the regular season, then declared he would take his game to another level come playoff time.
He sure did. Durant averaged 28.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists, and shot 55.6 percent, scoring more than 30 points in nine of his 15 games.
He also emerged as a smothering defender, handling much of the load against LeBron James during the finals.
The Warriors beat James and the Cavaliers in five games for their second title in three seasons, and Durant's first, after he departed Oklahoma City to join a super team.
A year ago, on July 4, Durant announced his decision to leave the Thunder, after Curry, Green, Iguodala and Klay Thompson travelled to the Hamptons to make their group plea for him.
The scrutiny came immediately - would there be enough shots to go around? How would Curry respond to no longer being the biggest Bay Area basketball star?
How long would it take for chemistry to develop?
All of those things were pretty much moot. The Warriors just kept winning and their championship said it all.
Every team is now chasing the franchise. Ten years after becoming the No 2 draft pick, behind Greg Oden, Durant hoisted a trophy and will have his ring at last.