What everyone had feared days before is now a reality. Further tests on Kevin Durant’s injured Achilles showed that the Golden State Warriors star suffered a rupture, which required surgery.
Making his first appearance in over a month since suffering a calf strain in the conference semifinals, Durant worked his way back to help Golden State stave off elimination in Game 5. Then, it happened.
The injury is going to cost the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP at least the entire 2019-20 season. It’s a devastating turn for one of the game’s best talents and a man that was set to be the toast of free agency next month.
Where does Durant go from here? What are his options?
After months of speculation that KD was going to leave the Warriors for another NBA city, we’re here to say that him re-signing with the Warriors makes more sense now than ever before.
Durant has options: He could still hit free agency in 2020.
- By virtue of signing a series of one-and-one deals with Golden State, Durant was protecting himself from potential injury. Now that this is the case, he can pick up the $31.5 million option for 2019-20 and rehab.
- This seems to be a last resort thing for Durant. But it’s not extremely unlikely if the free-agent market isn’t kind to Durant.
- Remember, Durant won’t take to the court in a regular season game until he’s 32 years old.
The finances: It’s the economy, stupid!
- Should Durant opt out of his contract, Golden State can offer him roughly $221 million over five years.
- The most any other team can offer Durant is $164 million over four seasons. That’s a difference of $57 million in cold hard cash.
- Given the tricky nature of Achilles injuries, the unknowns and Durant’s age, this might be his best bet for further economic security.
The Warriors owe it to him: A classy organization needs to live up to its billing.
- We can argue whether the Warriors did Durant wrong by “rushing him back” for Game 5 until we’re blue in the face. That debate is not really going to accomplish much.
- What we can all pretty much agree on is that Golden State owes it to Durant to give him that super-max deal.
- Going against the ridiculous narrative that he’s soft, Durant risked everything by coming back with his team down 3-1. Short term, that could help lead to a historic comeback and third consecutive title.
The risk: Other teams might be interested, but it’s tricky.
- We ready reports earlier in the week that other teams were still willing to offer Durant a max contract in free agency. That includes the New York Knicks.
- But it gets tricky from there. Other squads can no longer plan on teaming Durant up with another elite-level free agent target for the 2019-20 season.
- Durant would either have to sign with said team hoping further progression next summer or another star would have to hope against hope that KD returns healthy in 2020-21. That’s a lot of “ifs.”
The known: Despite the narratives, Durant and the Warriors work well.
- Recovering from this type of injury on a new team with a new medical staff and completely new teammates would put Durant in an extremely uncomfortable position.
- He gets a long with Warriors star Stephen Curry. By virtue of the reaction of general manager Bob Myers, there’s a ton of tight-knit relationships here.
- Durant rehabbing within the friendly confines of these relationships could make the most sense for him.
San Francisco: This has always played a role in Durant’s decision-making process.
- The star has noted multiple times how he’s looking forward to playing in San Francisco’s Chase Center — the new home of the Warriors.
- San Francisco offers Durant boundless opportunities to continue branding himself off the court. It’s not New York or Los Angeles. But it is close.
- Durant’s relationship with Silicon Valley startups should also loom large here. He can spend the season off cultivating those relationships and building his brand in the technological capital of the United States. That’s in the past been big for him.
Despite rumors to the contrary, it was never a foregone conclusion that Durant was going to leave the Warriors in free agency. He’s made that clear himself.
Now that one of the game’s best players if facing the biggest uphill climb of his career, it makes the most sense for Durant to opt out of his deal and sign a super-max contract with the Warriors.
This would give Durant financial security that no other team can offer him. He can remain a larger-than-life figure within an organization that has helped him grow. And more importantly for someone of Durant’s ilk, this would offer him a calming presence at a time that the star needs it.
In turn, the Warriors could do right by their star forward. Whether the organization is to blame for this latest injury is up for interpretation. But by offering him the super-max deal, Golden State would be telling Durant just how much the organization thinks of him.