Kevin Durant is joining the Golden State Warriors.
Saying it has been “by far the most challenging few weeks in my professional life,” Durant announced his decision Monday in a post on The Players’ Tribune.
He is expected to sign a two-year, $54.3 million contract, sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein. The deal would include a player option after the first year.
“The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction,” Durant wrote. “But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth.
“With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
After Durant signs with Golden State, two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry will become the fourth-highest-paid player on the Warriors. Durant will be No. 1, followed by Klay Thompson ($16.6 million), Draymond Green ($15.3 million) and Curry ($12.1 million), who can become a free agent after next season.
Durant’s contract can be finalized July 7, when a leaguewide moratorium is lifted on signings and trades.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr was in Hawaii and learned about Durant joining Golden State via The Players’ Tribune website, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
With Durant’s decision, the Warriors are unlikely to match the reported four-year, $95 million offer sheet that Harrison Barnes agreed to with the Dallas Mavericks.
The Warriors will also likely move center Andrew Bogut and his 2016-17 contract with a base value of just over $11 million. Just before Durant’s Players’ Tribune post, Bogut removed references to the Warriors from his Twitter page.
The Thunder were disappointed to hear of Durant’s departure and will take some time before making any roster decisions, particularly related to Russell Westbrook’s future, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The biggest catch on the free-agent market, Durant met with six teams the past three days: Oklahoma City, Golden State, San Antonio, Boston, Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors held their meeting with Durant on Friday. On Saturday, Durant spoke with NBA legend Jerry West, a member of the Warriors’ executive board, on the telephone, sources told ESPN’s Chris Broussard. West outlined reasons why he believed Golden State would be the ideal fit for the superstar forward.
The 27-year-old Durant has spent all nine seasons of his career with the Thunder organization. He won the MVP in 2014, has been named first-team All-NBA five times and has made seven All-Star teams. He has appeared in four Western Conference finals and one NBA Finals, losing in five games to the Heat in 2012.
“I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me,” Durant wrote. “It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
“It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.”
Durant bounced back last season to earn second-team All-NBA honors after undergoing three surgeries on his right foot to repair a Jones fracture suffered prior to the 2014-15 season, when he was limited to 27 games before undergoing a season-ending bone graft procedure in March. Without Durant, the Thunder missed the postseason.
With him back for 72 games last season, the Thunder improved to 55-27 and finished third in the West. The Thunder beat the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the opening round, upset the 67-win Spurs in six games in the second round and pushed the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals.
Durant averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists last season, and he scored at least 20 points in 67 straight games.
In nine seasons, Durant is averaging 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.