NBA Finals MVP Durant inks new deal with Warriors

NBA Finals MVP Durant inks new deal with Warriors

Two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, pictured June 2018, has signed a new contract to stay with the Golden State Warriors (AFP Photo/Gregory Shamus)

San Francisco (AFP) – Two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant has signed a new contract to remain with the Golden State Warriors, who seek a fourth title in five campaigns next season.

While the team did not disclose details of the new deal, the San Jose Mercury News, New York Times and ESPN reported the deal would pay Durant about $30 million next season and a player option for the 2019-20 season at around $31 million.

The Warriors made a deal with free agent center DeMarcus Cousins that will make them the first team in 40 years to boast an all-All-Star starting lineup alongside Durant, forward Draymond Green and guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

After winning the 2015 NBA crown but losing to Cleveland in a 2016 finals rematch, the Warriors landed Durant and have beaten the Cavaliers in the past two finals, going a combined 8-1.

Durant, 29, averaged 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 blocked shots as the Warriors swept Cleveland to capture the title last month in his 11th career NBA season.

The only other players with back-to-back NBA Finals MVP awards are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Durant averaged 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists and a career-high 1.75 blocks a game in the 2017-18 campaign.

Zaza Pachulia and David West aren’t coming back

Zaza Pachulia and David West aren’t coming back

The writing has been on the wall for quite a while. As the playoffs approached for the Golden State Warriors, Zaza Pachulia and David West started to see their minutes dwindle. In the NBA Finals, West played a mere 28 minutes; Pachulia played only six.

Then came the offseason. We knew the Warriors were going all in on young bigs Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, the only two center options under contract. We didn’t know how else they would shape out the frontcourt on their roster, and whether they’d return to Pachulia or West for veteran leadership and depth.

But then came the shocking news that the team had signed four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. And after that, the less-shocking, but mildly surprising news that Kevon Looney was available for the minimum. And finally, the out-of-nowhere news that the team would sign the recently-waived Jonas Jerebko.

And with those moves, it’s now time to say goodbye to Pachulia and West. The Warriors have five bigs under contract, plus Draymond Green. They’re moving away from traditional, large, near-the-basket bigs, and towards young, athletic 4s and 5s who can defend in space when switched in the pick and roll.

The reality is, West and Pachulia had no future with the way the Warriors are trending, or the way the league is trending, for that matter. Looney and Bell (and hopefully soon Jones) can hold their own when switched onto James Harden, Chris Paul, and LeBron James. Jerebko can space the floor and pull opposing bigs out to the three-point line. And Cousins can . . . well, he’s Cousins. He can do it all.

Pachulia and West were never flashy, but they played huge roles for Golden State. They brought toughness, rebounds, and veteran leadership to a young team. And in their two years in the Bay, they were rewarded with their first career championships, and then their second.

Godspeed, you two. And thanks for being Warriors.