Even before Kevin Durant took the court to lead the U.S. against France in the men’s gold medal basketball game Friday night at the Tokyo Olympics, he struck gold with the Nets. Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman announced via their Boardroom media platform that the 14-year veteran who turns 33 in September has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Nets that is worth $198 million.
The announcement was made just before Durant becomes eligible to sign the extension on Saturday. Nets general manager Sean Marks previously indicated the organization plans to extend the contracts of each member of their Big 3, including Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
The news underlined the huge financial commitment Nets owner Joe Tsai is willing to make. According to ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks, Tsai is on track to pay $296 million in salary and luxury tax for the 2021-22 season, which will be second in NBA history behind only the $337 million Golden State is projected to spend next season.
Durant is scheduled to earn $42 million next season before the four-year extension kicks in. As part of the deal, Durant agreed to decline his player option for the 2022-23 season when the extension begins.
After joining the Nets in 2019-20, Durant sat out that season while recovering from Achilles tendon surgery. Injuries limited him to just 35 games last season, but he averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting a career-high 45% from three-point range.
During 12 playoff games, Durant averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 40.2% from deep. He scored 49 points in a Game 5 second-round victory over the eventual champion Bucks and 48 in a Game 7 overtime loss to the Bucks.
The free-agent signing period opened Friday afternoon, but a week of negotiations ended quietly for the Nets as they used their last roster spot for five-year veteran wing man DeAndre’ Bembry, who has career averages of 6.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting just 26.8% from deep. The Nets reportedly lost out on signing veteran Andre Iguodala to Golden State.
Previously, the Nets agreed to terms with their own free agents Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown, and they added veterans Patty Mills and James Johnson. The draft night trade that sent Landry Shamet to the Suns for veteran Jevon Carter and the No. 29 pick used for center Day’Ron Sharpe became official Friday. On Thursday night, they announced the signing of No. 27 overall pick Cam Thomas.