Kevin Durant took a slight pay cut this coming season so that the Golden State Warriors would have money to pay Stephen Curry a super max contract and bring back Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Steve Kerr compared it to what Tim Duncan with the Spurs. Via the Mercury News:
I knew he was going to give up enough money to allow us to keep Andre and Shaun. I didn’t know he was going to go beyond that. A remarkable gesture. I told him it reminded me a little bit of Tim Duncan and his time with the Spurs. He made max money and then at key times in his career he took a little less so they could add a player here and there. The way the league works, the way the CBA works, it really kind of is up to the star player at key times to take a little haircut here and there. Whether that’s fair or not, I don’t know. But I do know that Tim knew it was dramatically helping his own career and KD understands the same thing. In the end, he’s going to make a fortune in his career. Already has and he hopefully is going to win more titles and that’s what he cares about.
High praise from a guy who played alongside Tim Duncan, but what is Kerr talking about? How can you even begin to compare these two “sacrifices.”
Tim Duncan went from the 3rd highest paid player in the league in ’11-’12 at $21.16 million. The next season he took more than a 50% pay cut to $9.63 million. He was the 57th highest paid player in the league. Kobe Bryant made $30 million that season.
Durant was the 2nd highest paid player in the NBA last season at $26.5 million. This season he’s accepted a “hometown” discount of $25 million. He will still be one of the 15 highest paid players in the league. He may have left $9.5 million on the table, but his actual pay cut was only $1.5 million.
Duncan was in his 16th season when he took his massive cut so maybe Durant will do something similar when he’s winding down his career, but for now there’s nothing to compare. And to make it more interesting, look at Kobe Bryant who played the same number of seasons as Duncan (20) and made an extra $87 million. Kevin Durant falls somewhere between those extremes.