The biggest question of the N.B.A. off-season was answered Monday when Kevin Durant, one of the best players ever to hit unrestricted free agency in any sport, agreed to join the Golden State Warriors.
Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Warriors, who won an N.B.A-record 73 games in the regular season, lets the rich get richer. Although Durant nearly led the Thunder to a stunning upset of the Warriors in the Western Conference finals this spring, the Warriors ultimately prevailed before losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the N.B.A. finals.
Now the Warriors, regrouping, have added the 27-year-old Durant, creating a virtual Dream Team out of a starting unit that also includes the All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Warriors now become the overwhelming favorites to win next season’s N.B.A. championship, which would be their second in three years.
While Golden State forward Andre Iguodala joked about finding out the news after logging on to the internet in the middle of a flight, Green was the first prominent member of the Warriors to officially greet Durant online.
“Welcome to THE FAMILY @KDTrey5 let’s just do what we are setting out to do!! #Blockoutthenoise,” Green said on Twitter.
Durant made his announcement on The Players’ Tribune website. While the terms of the deal have not been formally announced, a person briefed on the negotiations said it was a two-year deal worth $54.3 million, with the second year being a player option. The structure of the deal would allow Durant to opt out after next season and take advantage of the escalating salary cap to maximize his earnings.
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction,” Durant said in the posting.
“But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
The reaction to Durant’s decision was swift, with some on social media outlets predictably awarding Golden State the 2016-17 title, and others scorning Durant for leaving Oklahoma City and seeking an easier route to his first championship in the Bay Area.