The Achilles injury Kevin Durant suffered during Game 5 of the NBA Finals was a devastating blow — for himself and the NBA.
After digesting the immediate concerns of whether or not he should have been playing and the impact the injury has on the NBA Finals come the longer-term concerns.
How will the injury impact Durant’s health and basketball future, and what does it mean for his pending free agency should he opt out of the final year of his deal with the Golden State Warriors?
The answer to the first question won’t be known for a long time. Assuming the injury is the feared Achilles tear, we won’t see Durant on the court until past the midway point of next season at the earliest.
Teams reportedly not wavering on signing Durant
But his free agency status is more imminent — and reportedly more certain. Multiple reports landed on Tuesday concerning Durant’s status as a free agent. The consensus is clear.
‘Resounding’ yes to signing Durant
ESPN’s Bobby Marks said Tuesday that the teams he talked to wouldn’t hesitate to sign Durant.
“I talked to three teams,” Marks told “Get Up.” “I didn’t even get the question out. I said if you had cap space, would you go out and sign Kevin Durant knowing that he will likely be out maybe the whole year? The resounding answer was yes.”
Marks did not divulge the teams he spoke with, but The Athletic’s David Aldridge directly addressed the specific teams linked to Durant in free agency and provided a similar report.
Report: New York, L.A. teams still on board
In writing about the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, Aldridge reported that those teams were not dissuaded by Durant’s pending heath concerns.
“Durant’s injury, whether short-term or longer, has done little to cool the ardor of his most dogged free agent pursuers. The likelihood remains that all of the New York/L.A. teams will stay in the hunt for Durant beginning on the afternoon of June 30.”
Diminished Durant still worth the risk
It speaks to the type of talent Durant possesses and the potential impact he would have on the bottom lines of major-market teams pursuing his services.
It’s difficult to tell what we’ll see from Durant the next time he steps on a basketball court. He’ll likely be 31 years old and coming off an Achilles tear that historically diminishes the abilities of players who suffer the injury.
But even a diminished Durant retains tremendous value in the NBA.
Monday’s injury was a crushing blow for Durant. But it sounds like he can take solace knowing his financial outlook remains bright.
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