How might Kevin Durant’s injury impact his free agency?

TORONTO – The Warriors do not exactly need to wait for the results to prove what they fear about Kevin Durant. They will have clarity soon enough, though.

The Warriors expect to have Durant’s MRI results sometime on Wednesday morning after he traveled to New York on Tuesday for various medical opinions on his right Achilles injury. The Warriors already initially fear Durant tore his right Achilles tendon against Toronto in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, which would sideline him for the duration of the series and raise questions about his long-term future.

Don’t get it twisted. Even if Durant will begin rehabbing an injury that has altered plenty of others’ NBA careers for the worst, those in NBA circles still expect Durant to receive a max contract this summer. And why wouldn’t he?

Before straining his right calf against Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 8, Durant had averaged a league-leading 32.3 points in the playoffs. Before injuring what the Warriors believe is his right Achilles against Toronto in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday, Durant already had scored 11 points in 12 minutes. Not bad for someone who had missed 14 playoff games in about a month.

Durant will have a much longer rehab with his presumed Achilles injury. A typical timetable lasts anywhere between eight to 12 months depending on the players’ age, talent level, role and quality of rehab. Durant, who turns 31 on Sept. 29, will be entering his 13th NBA season still healing his Achilles.

Still, Durant is still expected to receive maximum earning power both because of his talent and because he is still in the prime of his NBA career. Would Durant’s injury, though, affect his free agency?

With Durant about to rehab from an injury that can be career debilitating, would this help the Warriors’ case in re-signing him? Presuming Durant opts out of his $31.5 million player option, the Warriors can sign him up to five years at $221 million while Durant has the luxury of rehabbing around All-Star talent and a team-oriented culture. Perhaps how the Warriors rushed to his support and defense following their Game 5 win might produce lasting warm feelings.

“Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said during a tear-filled press conference following Game 5. “He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate. He’s a good person. It’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him.”

Or would Durant remain determined to go elsewhere, even if it can only be up to four years at $164 million? If so, Durant would show confidence he could both return from his Achilles injury under presumed added pressure than he would under the Warriors’ infrastructure. The move could also capture Durant’s belief he can make up his lost earnings with other business ventures in a different market. Even if the Warriors are adamant the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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