Kevin Durant to leave Warriors for Brooklyn Nets

In a move that the Warriors dreaded happening from the minute he re-signed with the team last summer, Kevin Durant plans to sign with the Brooklyn Nets instead of staying with the Warriors. Durant planned to make the announcement on Sunday night on his Instagram account of The Boardroom, his company-owned sports business network, but various outlets reported the news first.

Durant had planned to have meetings with the Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers after free agency began on Sunday at 3:00 pm PT. After agreeing to a five-year, $190 million deal with Klay Thompson, Warriors general manager Bob Myers planned to fly from Los Angeles to New York for Durant’s meeting. Curry planned to join Myers in New York after taking an Under Armour sponsored trip in Asia. Thompson also connected with Durant via FaceTime.

The timing of Durant’s decision seemed surprising. Those around the NBA expected Durant to weigh his options for a few days after announcing his decision. After hosting meetings at a rented home in the Hamptons with the Warriors, Oklahoma City, the Clippers and Boston as a free agent in 2016, Durant announced in Players Tribune article about joining the Warriors on July 4. Although the Warriors did not receive the news they wanted, the timing of Durant’s decision gave them clarity on how to proceed moving forward for the rest of free agency.

Even though Durant declined the Warriors’ five-year, $221 million offer, the Warriors do not have enough cap room to sign another play to a max offer. Because of the NBA’s salary cap rules, the Warriors are restricted toward signing a player only at their tax-payer midlevel exception ($5.3 million) and veteran’s minimum deals. Since Durant is expected to miss all of next season after rupturing his right Achilles tendon against Toronto in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors still considered it a priority to sign wing players. Such candidates could include Rudy Gay, Wesley Matthews and Trevor Ariza, though such signings hinge on them willing to accept a pay cut.

As for Durant, he will agree to a four-year, $142 million deal with the Nets. He is expected to partner with close friend Kyrie Irving and possibly DeAndre Jordan.