SAN FRANCISCO: Golden State Warriors star forward Kevin Durant has declined a $31.5 million option for next season and will become an unrestricted NBA free agent, ESPN reported on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Durant, the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and 2014 NBA MVP, ruptured his right Achilles tendon in the second quarter of game five of the NBA Finals earlier this month and underwent surgery to repair the injury.
The 30-year-old forward is looking at missing the 2019-20 NBA season while rehabilitating and using the following campaign to rebuild to peak form, a prospect that could scare off some suitors who hoped for more instant returns from a big-money deal for one of the NBA’s biggest talents.
Durant averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 blocked shots a game for the Warriors this season and boosted his production to 32.3 points and 7.7 rebounds a game in the playoffs until suffering a right calf injury and missing nine games before his brief NBA Finals comeback.
Durant is still expected to have several offers when NBA free agency opens Sunday. While terms of deals can be completed early, NBA rules mandate no new contracts can be signed until July 6, leaving a week of various reports of agreements to terms but nothing teams can confirm until signings are complete.
Gasol takes $25.6M option, returns to Raptors
Spanish center Marc Gasol has exercised his $25.6 million one-season contract option to return to the NBA champion Toronto Raptors next season, the Canadian club announced on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
The 34-year-old seven-footer (2.16m) won a crown in his 11th NBA campaign. The 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is a three-time NBA All-Star and has helped Spain to a Basketball World Cup title as well as two Olympic silver medals.
Gasol, who averaged 13.6 points and 7.9 rebounds combined for the Raptors and Memphis this season, had until Thursday to accept the deal or he would have become a free agent on Sunday.
Rockets eye deal for Butler with Sixers
Scoring champion James Harden and playmaker Chris Paul would have Philadelphia star Jimmy Butler as a new teammate if the Houston Rockets get their way, ESPN reported.
Unnamed league sources told the US-based telecaster that the Rockets want Butler to push the 76ers for a sign-and-trade deal that would let the All-Star forward move to Houston.
The Rockets, who lack salary cap room for the deal, would potentially have to involve a third team in the deal and potentially part with center Clint Capela, forward P.J. Tucker or guard Eric Gordon to make any swap work under NBA contract rules.
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