One of the biggest mysteries heading into 2019 NBA free agency was the standing of Kevin Durant with the Golden State Warriors.
Though regarded as one of the best players in the NBA today, the fact that Durant tore his Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals and is likely to miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season led many to wonder exactly what he would do.
Some questioned whether Durant would simply opt-in to the last year of his deal with the Warriors and enter 2020 free agency, but that quickly turned out to be false. Following that, the rumors began to fly about what he could do.
Aside from the ongoing beliefs about Durant teaming up with Kyrie Irving, there were also rumors about Durant and Kawhi Leonard having talks about pairing up. It was then reported that Durant was considering the Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and Brooklyn Nets.
Ultimately, Durant finally made his decision, signing with the Nets on a four-year, $164 million deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Sources: Durant will sign a 4-year, $164M deal with the Nets; Irving will sign 4-years, $141M.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
The big news didn’t stop for the Nets as they also added Irving on a four-year deal, giving them an extremely dangerous duo that will make them Eastern Conference contenders for the foreseeable future.
Durant getting a max deal despite his injury comes as no surprise. He has proven himself to be one of the greatest players in NBA history and even if he never reaches his level prior to the Achilles injury, Durant at 80% is still a superstar.
The question now becomes what’s next for the rest of free agency. Multiple big names are already off the board with Durant and Irving in Brooklyn, Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat, and Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics, along with the expected return to Golden State for Klay Thompson. As it stands, Kawhi Leonard seems to be the only big-name player left on the board.
The Lakers will obviously be pushing for Leonard to join the purple and gold but should that fall through, the team’s options of adding a third All-Star player are practically done. The team would then shift their focus to the likes of D’Angelo Russell should he still be available, as well as other role players to surround their major duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.