OAKLAND — Kevin Durant helped the Warriors win an NBA championship during his first year with Golden State. General manager Bob Myers is also crediting the Finals MVP with keeping the core of that team together.
Myers met with reporters Friday for the first time since a parade in downtown Oakland celebrating the Warriors’ second championship in three years. During the 20-minute session, Myers touched on several topics but repeatedly turned the conversation to Durant’s decision to take a pay cut and sign a team-friendly two-year deal worth approximately $53 million rather than go for a max deal.
That, Myers said, was the instrumental move in Golden State’s ability to re-sign key veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“His gesture of taking less gave us the ability to be very aggressive in pursuing Sean and Andre,” Myers said. “I can pretty much unequivocally say without it, we’re not looking at the team we have right now. What Kevin did shows who he is, shows what he’s about and I think it’s clear that that’s winning.
“Without him doing that it would have been a different roster, and clearly to me, a roster that wasn’t as good as the one we have right now.”
Durant, 28, had been adamant about his desire to keep the heart of the Warriors roster together after he left Oklahoma City to sign with Golden State a year ago. His new contract will net Durant $25 million in 2018, with a player option for 2019. Durant is expected to decline the option and sign for the max then.
A seven-time All-Star, Durant could have earned as much as $36 million had he signed a max deal this season. As it is, Durant will earn even less next year than he did this year.
That opened the door for the Warriors to bring back 2015 Finals MVP Iguodala (three years, $48 million guaranteed), Livingston (three years, $24 million) and David West (one year, $2.3 million).
The team also signed shooting guard Nick Young to a one-year, $5.2 million contract.
On Friday, center Zaza Pachulia agreed to a $3.5 million, one-year contract to stay with the NBA champions, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said.
Golden State’s starter in a three-center rotation last season, the 33-year-old Pachulia averaged 5.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.1 minutes during the postseason, and scored in double digits four times
All of it made possible, Myers said, because of Durant.
“He did it on his own volition, which makes it that much more impactful and impressive to me,” Myers said. “He’s a max player for the foreseeable future forever. For him to do something like that is commendable. Without him doing that other sacrifices as far as roster would have had to be made.
“That’s why people enjoy watching our team, the selflessness of the way we play on the floor. But that’s also the selflessness of who our team is as witnessed by what Kevin did and what other guys have done. That’s what people love seeing. Nobody likes seeing greed and individuals grab attention.”
Myers noted the rapid player movement in free agency as teams maneuvered to try to keep up with Golden State.