Team officials showed up at Durant’s house at 11:01 p.m. CST on June 30 — the exact minute teams were allowed by league rules to negotiate contracts with their players — and offered a new deal. In an exclusive interview with The Oklahoman on Wednesday, Durant said he agreed to the deal at 11:02 p.m., one minute after teams executives showed up at his house.
The deal is worth approximately $85 million, the maximum allowable salary under NBA rules, according to Durant’s agent, Aaron Goodwin.
Durant cannot sign his new deal until Thursday, when the league’s moratorium is lifted, and team officials are prohibited from publicly discussing the agreement until that time. But by agreeing to a five-year deal, which begins for the 2011-12 season, the Thunder has secured Durant’s rights through 2015-16.
The contract, Goodwin told The Oklahoman, does not contain a player option that would allow Durant to become a free agent following the fourth year of the new deal.
“He told everyone from Day One that he’s committed to five years and doesn’t care about an out,” Goodwin said. “And that shows you the magnitude of the person Kevin Durant is.”
Durant, who is in Orlando, Fla. this week watching the Thunder’s rookies and second-year players compete in summer league, broke the news just before 10 a.m. central on the popular social networking site Twitter.
“Extension for 5 more years wit the thunder....God is Great, me and my family came a long way...I love ya’ll man for real, this is a blessing!” he wrote in the site’s customary shorthand.
Moments later, Durant announced he grew emotional after completing the deal.
“First time I cried n a while..Seat Pleasant we outchea, RIP Chucky, we doin wat we dreamed about..i swear I love all my bros!! yessir!!” Durant wrote, acknowledging his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Md. and his slain youth league coach Charles Craig, who died at age 35 and is the reason Durant wears jersey No. 35.
The exact value of Durant’s deal will not be known until next July, when the salary cap for the 2011-12 season is set. But under current projections for the 2010-11 season, Durant could be in line for a contract in the neighborhood of $84.85 million over the life of the five-year deal. His first-year salary in the new deal would be worth about $14 million based on projections of a $56.1 million salary cap in 2010-11.
With maximum allowable 10.5 percent raises, Durant’s salary would increase to $15.4 million in Year Two, $16.9 million in Year Three, $18.4 million in Year Four and $19.9 million in the fifth and final season.
“I’m happy I’m a part of this team, and hopefully I’ll be here for years to come,” Durant told The Oklahoman last week.
By agreeing to a new deal now, the Thunder demonstrated the high level of commitment it has to the league’s newest star. With the current collective bargaining agreement expiring June 30, 2011, Oklahoma City could have waited until next summer to complete a deal with Durant as a restricted free agent under CBA changes that are widely anticipated to be more favorable to the owners.
“They showed Kevin and his family, by showing up at his house at 11:01 p.m. (on June 30), their commitment to Kevin,” Goodwin said. “And he made it clear his commitment to them at the same time.”
Durant, 21, led the league in scoring last season, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to do so after averaging 30.1 points per game. Durant also made the Western Conference All-Star team for the first time in 2009-10 and earned All-NBA First Team honors, joining LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.