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What Golden State must do to make salary cap room for Kevin Durant

On July 4th, Kevin Durant announced via The Players’ Tribune that he would hang up his Thunder jersey and wear one with “Golden State Warriors” written across his chest instead.

Certainly, following their historic season and addition of Durant, the Warriors are a team to be feared for the 2016-17 season. But with all these superstars come super salaries, resulting in tight salary cap space.

The Warriors have already taken steps to improve their salary situation by trading center Andrew Bogut. According to Basketball Insiders, with the Bogut trade to the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors got rid of nearly $12.7 million. With the Mavericks also expected to sign Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, the Warriors withdrew their offer allowing for Barnes to sign with the Mavericks as an unrestricted free agent. After Durant’s announcement, the Warriors also opted for Shaun Livingston rather than Festus Ezeli, allowing for Ezeli to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Warriors also signed center Zaza Pachulia, who had a resurgent year for the Mavericks last season, to replace Bogut for just $2.9 million.

This series of moves means the Warriors have already laid the main groundwork for bringing Durant in via cap space.

So what else can the Warriors do to make room for Kevin Durant?

Unless Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights agree to minimum salary or a mid-level exception, they have to go. As for James Michael McAdoo and Ian Clark, they have both become restricted free agents; however, McAdoo’s Early Bird rights make him more valuable to keep as a bench player. With Brandon Rush, it is possible for the team to offer him the estimated average player salary, $6.191 million.

As Danny Leroux, from Sporting News, points out,”the Wrriors can only keep two of these holds, meaning McAdoo and Rush are the clear choices. They also have 2015 selection Kevon Looney on the books, 2016 first round draft pick Damian Jones at his rookie-scale price and 2016 second-round selection Patrick McCaw on a two-year minimum contract.”

Durant’s acquisition will put some restraints on the team, but with a little buckling, it looks like they can pull it off. Pachulia took a pay cut, maybe others will do make sacrifices to bring in the former MVP as well.

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