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Why Kevin Durant's short-term deal with Warriors may cause turmoil

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 11/14/2018 Jeff Zillgitt
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When Kevin Durant decided to join the Golden State Warriors during free agency in the summer of 2016, he ended up signing a one-plus-one contract.

A one-plus-one deal is a two-year contract, but it allows the player to become a free agent after one season if he chooses. It’s a move LeBron James popularized when he returned to Cleveland in 2014, and it works for the player in two ways.

That deal allows a player to sign for more money the following season – even with the same team – if there’s a significant spike in the NBA’s salary cap. It also gives the player more freedom in free agency. He isn’t locked into a long-term deal and can explore options sooner and more frequently.

That ability to become a free agent season after season is a root problem of the Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dust-up that threatens to torpedo the good thing Golden State has going.

The recent confrontation stems from an end-of-the-game play Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers in which Green committed a turnover as the fourth quarter expired. Durant, who had a 30-point triple-double, clamored for the basketball. Durant expressed his frustration at the end of regulation, and Green lashed out with the disagreement continuing after Golden State’s overtime loss. According to The Athletic, Green called Durant an expletive and chastised him for dangling his contract situation over the franchise’s collective head.

Ah yes, the contract. Durant chose free agency again in 2017 after helping Golden State to a title and re-resigned on another one-plus-one deal. He took the free agency route again in July after helping the Warriors to a second consecutive title in 2018 and re-signed another one-plus-one deal.

Durant can become a free agent again after this season, creating the contractual turmoil and roster uncertainty that Golden State has been able to avoid with other players.

That kind of deal is good for the player but not always good for the team, which can feel like a hostage – always wondering if this is the player’s last season. But Durant earned that right. He’s an MVP and two-time Finals MVP. Not many players – perhaps only the top five players in the league – can pull off the one-plus-one deals season after season. Most players want the long-term security and guaranteed money.

But Durant and James can do it because of their unbelievable talents and because they have other sources of significant income such as endorsement deals and investments.

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Durant’s contract situation is a constant topic as Golden State tries to minimize distractions and win another title, adding to their dynasty. It doesn’t make the situation any easier with increasing speculation that Durant will leave after this season. Multiple Eastern Conference executives are bracing for Durant to sign with the New York Knicks in July.

It leaves Golden State in a predicament. In some way, they must cater to the superstar, and in the case of Durant vs. Green, they have to choose a side, if they want the superstar to return. As good and integral as Green is, he’s not Durant. If a team had to choose one or the other, a team chooses Durant.

By suspending Green one game without pay, they run the risk of alienating Green while trying to appease Durant.

It’s not the first time Green and Durant have butted heads. How the two players and the team emerge from this recent dust-up will impact this season. But no matter which direction the relationship goes, Durant’s contract still hangs over the team’s present and future.

Follow Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why Kevin Durant's short-term deal with Warriors may cause turmoil

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