When Kevin Durant made his finals debut Monday night the Warriors could not have asked for a better start. The “Hamptons 5” was reunited and the Warriors appeared to be back to their dominant self. Durant made his first three shots and it seemed that Golden State was going to win the game and officially find themselves back in the series. Nine minutes into the second quarter every basketball fans worst fear happened, and Warriors nation collective heart stopped.
While attempting to drive to the basket Durant went to plant his right leg, and he immediately started limping off to the side of the court. Durant took a seat on the court moved his foot back and forth then signaled to the bench to send the trainer over. Durant stood up with aid of the trainer and Andre Iguodala and proceeded to limp off the court to the locker room. In split second Durant’s season was over, and the one-time MVP, two-time Finals MVP, two-time champion, and nine-time All-NBA performer injured his Achilles Tendon. For any basketball player this can be devastating, and for many an injury they never fully overcome.
Questions started to swirl dealing with Durant’s impending free agency coming up this summer. With a player option for next season, Durant is expected to opt out of his contract this summer. Durant’s impending free agency has been a hot topic all season causing a point of contention inside the Warriors locker room. Multiple reports have reported that it is all but a foregone conclusion that Durant will leave the Bay Area in free agency. With this major injury taking place and Durant set to turn 31 this coming season his decision on where he will play becomes the biggest of his career.
Several teams are still probably going to offer him the max, but with this injury, Golden State could be in a better position to resign Durant. There is a great chance that Durant could miss the entire next season. If that’s the case is it a good idea for Durant to go to a new franchise undergo the most critical rehab of his career with a new team? Everybody assumes he’s headed to New York to play for the Knicks. Is that a smart move the Knicks have been one of the poorest run franchises in the NBA for years. Now we are asking Durant to put his trust in the Knicks to aid him in his rehabilitation process?
The Warriors could come to Durant and say: We will offer you a three max contract, and don’t worry about playing next season take your time rehabbing. There would be no pressure for him to come back early. He would be able to focus strictly on rehabbing. He would be able to stay with an organization that he has won two championships, and two Finals MVPs with. He would have a great support staff, and there would not be any added pressure to rush back to the court to play for a new franchise. What if nobody joins him in New York? What if Jimmy Butler resigns in Philly or signs in LA with the Clippers? What if Kyrie signs with Brooklyn and Anthony Davis get traded to the Lakers? Would Durant want to be in New York, with the number four pick from this year’s draft and Dennis Smith Jr? While, playing in one of the biggest, high pressure, super intense media markets in the whole NBA.
These are legit questions that must be asked, and only time will tell how this all plays out. Durant is flying cross country to New York to have his injury re-evaluated by doctors. He reportedly put his residence in the Bay Area up for sale and purchased a place in New York, so it is entirely possible that he has already made up his mind. That is why Durant’s impending free agency is beyond fascinating and why his injury will have a major impact on free agency.