Free-agent All-NBA star Kevin Durant plans to sign a four-year contract worth up to $164 million to play for the Brooklyn Nets.
Durant will join free agents Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, who also plan to sign with the franchise. Players can officially sign their contracts starting Saturday.
Irving will sign for four years in a deal worth up to $141 million, league sources said, while Jordan has agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal, Excel Sports agent Jeff Schwartz told ESPN on Sunday.
As part of the agreement to sign with Brooklyn, Durant and Irving are taking less than the max — between $4 million and $5 million each annually — to allow Jordan to get to $10 million a year, league sources said.
To sign Jordan, Irving would have to commit to a four-year, $122 million contract. In the case of Durant, the injured forward’s contract would come in at $137 million. However, Brooklyn can structure Durant and Irving’s contracts to include 15% of unlikely bonuses in each year. If the bonuses are reached, both players would recoup the lost earnings to get them back to $164 million and $141 million, respectively.
Veteran guard Garrett Temple has also agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with Brooklyn, agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.
The deals mark a remarkable chain of events for a franchise that general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson found in disrepair less than four years ago.
Across town, the New York Knicks and owner Jim Dolan were not prepared to offer Durant a full max contract because of concerns over his recovery from the Achilles tendon injury that is likely to sideline him for all of next season, league sources told ESPN.
After ESPN reported the planned deals, Caesars Sportsbook shortened the Nets’ odds to win the 2019-20 title to 18-1 from 25-1 on Sunday afternoon, following some bets on Brooklyn placed at the company’s New Jersey shops, a sportsbook manager said.
Durant declined his $31.5 million player option in June, officially setting him up for unrestricted free agency. He was eligible to remain with the Golden State Warriors on a five-year, $221 million deal, or sign a four-year, $164 million deal with another team.
Leading up to free agency, Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman had been in New York, where they mulled the star forward’s free-agency options. Durant had been considering a number of scenarios, including a return to Golden State, while the LA Clippers also were believed to be a consideration beyond Brooklyn and the Knicks, sources had told ESPN.
Durant On The Mend
Kevin Durant is one of a number of NBA players who have suffered Achilles tendon tears. A look at some of the notables, and how long it took each to return to the court:
PLAYER DAYS BETWEEN GAMES
Kevin Durant ?
DeMarcus Cousins 357
Rudy Gay 273
Wesley Matthews 237
Kobe Bryant 240
Chauncey Billups 296
Elton Brand 243
LaPhonso Ellis 222
Dominique Wilkins 283
— ESPN Stats & Information research
Durant and Kleiman met with Warriors general manager Bob Myers on Sunday in New York and delivered him the news on the decision to leave Golden State, league sources told ESPN. The other teams were informed later in the day.
The Nets and all the teams who were in the Durant sweepstakes knew they likely would be without his services for the entire 2019-20 season. Durant ruptured his right Achilles on June 10, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a devastating injury that changed the entire dynamic of the NBA offseason. He underwent surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York on June 12.
The Achilles tear, suffered as he tried to drive past Toronto Raptors big man Serge Ibaka in the second quarter of Game 5 in Toronto, came after Durant had missed a month-plus of the playoffs with a right calf injury suffered May 8 against the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. The Raptors game had marked his return to the court, but it proved short-lived, and Toronto won the Finals in Game 6 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Durant, who turns 31 in September, finished the postseason averaging 32.3 points per game on 51% shooting from the field, 44% shooting from 3-point range and 90% shooting from the free throw line. He’s the first player in NBA history to average 30 points per game on 50-40-90 shooting in a single postseason (minimum five games).
The second overall pick in the 2007 draft, Durant spent his first nine NBA seasons with Seattle/Oklahoma City, then signed with the Warriors in 2016 to give them a superteam that included fellow All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Durant helped lead Golden State to NBA titles in 2017 and ’18, winning Finals MVP both times. He’s a 10-time All-Star (and was named All-Star Game MVP in 2012 and ’19) and six-time first-team All-NBA honoree, and also won Rookie of the Year in 2007-08 and league MVP in 2013-14. He has led the NBA in scoring four times, and his current 27 points per game average ranks sixth all time.
Durant is one of five players to win at least one Rookie of the Year, MVP, Finals MVP, All-Star Game MVP and scoring title, joining LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
A year ago, it seemed as though Irving would be in Boston for the long term.
In a season-ticket holder meeting in October, he declared: “If you’ll have me, I’ll re-sign.” Around the same time, he made a commercial with his father, Drederick, inside an empty TD Garden, and spoke of ensuring no one else ever would wear No. 11 for the Celtics.
C’s You Later
Kyrie Irving made second-team All-NBA last season. He’s just the fourth Celtics player to not return to the team the season after earning All-NBA honors. A look at the others:
SEASON PLAYER REASON
2016-17 Isaiah Thomas Traded to CLE
1962-63 Bob Cousy Retired
1947-48 Ed Sadowski Traded to GSW
— Elias Sports Bureau
After a disappointing season for the Celtics, though, things are much different now. Individually, Irving had one of the best seasons of his career, and was a deserving second-team All-NBA selection. Boston, however, was not nearly as good as the lofty preseason expectations for the franchise, and flamed out in five games in the second round of the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks — with Irving going a combined 21-for-65 in the final three games of that series (all losses).
Along the way, he got into repeated public back-and-forths with the team’s younger players, and also announced after a victory over the Raptors in January that he’d made up with James — a relationship that wasn’t in a good place when Irving requested a trade away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. And his free agency officially became a hot-button topic Feb. 1 at Madison Square Garden, when he announced, “Ask me July 1,” when asked whether he’d stay in Boston, later adding, “I don’t owe anybody s—.”
In 67 games last season for Boston, Irving, 27, averaged 23.8 points, along with career highs of 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists.
After 10 seasons with the Clippers, Jordan signed a one-year, $22.9 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks last offseason. The center made 50 starts for Dallas, averaging 11.0 points and 13.7 rebounds before being dealt to the Knicks in late January as part of the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster.
New York convinced Jordan not to seek a buyout after the trade, hoping he could mentor some of the team’s younger big men, notably Mitchell Robinson. Jordan saw his playing time dwindle as the Knicks went with younger lineups, and he was a DNP-coach’s decision in the team’s final seven games.
Jordan, who turns 31 on July 21, acknowledged it was “strange” not to be a regular but called the decision mutual. And while New York endured another playoff-less season, going a league-worst 17-65, the unrestricted free agent said he liked the franchise’s direction.
“I love it here,” Jordan told the New York Post late in the season. “I love what [first-year coach David Fizdale] is doing here. Obviously there’s a lot of things that these guys want to do to get better, to better the organization. We’ll see what happens.”
An 11-year veteran and three-time All-NBA player, Jordan holds career averages of 9.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. His 66.9 field goal percentage ranks first in the NBA among active players.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.