Kevin Durant knew exactly what he was doing when he re-signed with the Golden State Warriors this summer for less than the max, taking a nearly $10-million paycut so the team could keep other key members during free agency.
"Well, I'm a smart guy and I want to keep this thing going and looking at Andre (Iguodala) and Shaun (Livingston) and Steph (Curry) - they all should make the most money that they can make and get what they deserve," Durant told The Athletic's Anthony Slater. "Because they were all underpaid and I knew at some point they'd want to get what they deserve. So I just took a step back and let the chips fall where they may.
"Then I took it in my hands. I wanted to keep the team together and I thought it was going to help the ownership bring all the guys back. And on top of that, it's my money. It's my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it."
The reigning NBA Finals MVP was criticized to the moon and back for his initial decision to join the powerhouse Warriors a year ago, departing an Oklahoma City Thunder squad that held a 3-1 series lead over Golden State in the 2016 Western Conference finals before losing in seven games. Even though he's making a personal sacrifice - albeit a slight one - to benefit teammates, Durant still finds himself getting blasted for his actions, though he's becoming increasingly numb to the hate.
"They only (criticized) it because it's the Warriors and it's me and they love to hate anything we do right now," he added. "A lot of players have (taken paycuts). It wasn't that I wanted the praise. I've learned from Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and how it has helped them over the years and I thought, if they did it, why can't I? Why shouldn't I sacrifice? People wanted the money to break us up and I didn't want that to happen.
"Yeah, like I said, I'm a grown man in this league and I'm at the point of my life and career where I'm able to dictate what I want to do with my future. So me and my business partner (Rich Kleiman) talked about it and when we brought it (offer) to them (Warriors management) we knew they'd be excited because it'll definitely help the whole group."
Durant's discounted deal will pay him $53 million over the next two years, with a player option in 2018-19 - well short of the $31 million annually he could have earned.