Ten-time All-Star Kevin Durant, most recently of the Golden State Warriors, will sign to play with the NBA's Brooklyn Nets next week, his production company said Sunday.
A post on the Instagram account of The Boardroom, a program for which Durant is the executive producer for ESPN, said he "has confirmed he will sign max deal with the Brooklyn Nets when the free agent moratorium period ends on July 6th."
"Max deal" is a reference to the maximum amount a team may pay a player under the National Basketball Association's collective bargaining agreement with the players union. The maximum is calculated under a complicated formula taking into account a team's revenue; ESPN reported that Durant's deal would be for $164 million over four years.
The contract can't formally be signed until next Saturday under the collective bargaining agreement.
Durant, a 6-foot, 9-inch forward who was voted the league's most valuable player in 2014, won two NBA championships with the Warriors and looked set to win his third before he ruptured an Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA finals against the Toronto Raptors, who went on to win the title.
ESPN reported, citing sources it didn't identify, that the Nets would also sign six-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, most recently of the Boston Celtics, and 6-foot-11 center DeAndre Jordan, a standout defender and rebounder most recently of the crosstown New York Knicks. Those reports couldn't immediately be confirmed.
The signings are a calculated risk for the Nets, as only Irving and Jordan would be likely to play for them next season. Durant is likely to miss the entire season, and if he is able to return in 2020-21, he would be doing so at age 32 after a year off.
But if it works, the Nets, who finished barely above .500 last season with 42 wins in 82 games, would be able to field a team of superstars likely to challenge for the championship.
It's unusual but not unprecedented for American sports teams to pay star players even if they can't play.
In 1964, after he had played three seasons at the U.S. Naval Academy, during which he won the Heisman Trophy, the quarterback Roger Staubach signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, even though his naval commitment meant he wouldn't be able to play until 1969, when he was 27 years old.
The gamble more than paid off for the Cowboys. Staubach eventually led them to two Super Bowl victories, went to the Pro Bowl six times and was named to the National Football League's All-Decade team for the 1970s.