A tearful Bob Myers, the Golden State Warriors President of Basketball Operations, sat in front of reporters after Game 5 of the NBA Finals and delivered the worst possible news about Kevin Durant’s leg injury.
“It’s an Achilles injury,” he said, “I don’t know the extent of it.”
An MRI on Tuesday will determine the extent of it, but from the looks of the injury and the tone of the Warriors, it may be less of a diagnosis and more a confirmation of the worst-case scenario.
If the injury is an Achilles tear, the repercussions could spread throughout the NBA. It’s an injury that would very likely cost Durant, long expected to opt-out of his deal and become a free agent, the entire 2019-20 regular season.
The recovery from an Achilles tear is a long, tough road and there is a distinct fear that the player may never return to his former self on the court. Durant’s injury is not just something that could change the course of his career, it’s something that will significantly impact free agency this summer.
It’s been long assumed that Durant would leave Golden State this summer to join a new team. However, if this injury is as bad as it seems, Durant may decide to opt-in and take his $31.5 million to stay with the Warriors through is rehabilitation. It’s hard to imagine a team giving Durant a lot of money to sit out a year and have questions about how good he’ll be whenever he returns. Staying with the Warriors might be his only choice.
If Durant is off the market, then the players who were lining up to play with him have to find other options. New York, for example, has been among the rumored landing spots, and there have been many assumptions that Kyrie Irving would leave the Boston Celtics to join him there.
Will Irving, if he was planning to leave, still go without high-powered help?
Does Anthony Davis now become a bigger prize for Boston or another team with room for two stars? Landing Davis was always supposed to be what convinced Irving to stay in Boston, but the ability to joint Durant somewhere sapped some of that leverage. If playing with Durant is no longer an option, a trade for Davis could make which ever team that gets him much more attractive to Irving.