While there had already been plenty of speculation regarding Kevin Durant’s future prior to the Achilles injury, the recent turn of events has raised even more questions.
One of the biggest storylines during the 2018-19 NBA season was Durant’s plans for the offseason. Despite all the massive success Durant enjoyed with the Golden State Warriors, many had presumed that he will attempt to test the free agency market.
Unfortunately, Durant’s situation has now changed after having surgery to repair his ruptured Achilles. Although there is still no set timetable for his return, he is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 NBA season.
However, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, he still plans to opt out and become a free agent:
Several league sources told ESPN that they expect Durant to follow through and hit free agency, despite the long recovery time ahead of him. And if he does, will the Warriors follow through and offer him the five-year maximum contract extension worth $221 million? Will other teams offer their maximum four-year, $164 million contract? Several league sources told ESPN that they expect the Warriors and Durant’s other suitors to offer the maximum allowable contract, despite the serious injury.
The prospect of Durant going through with his plan to test the market is certainly not too far-fetched. While there is no question that the injury put a damper in his plans, there is still little reason for him to alter his course of action at this point in the year.
Even the most elite players can see their value dwindle following a serious injury with DeMarcus Cousins serving as the most recent example. Regardless, that does not appear to be the case for Durant.
One of the most notable developments that have occurred since the injury are the teams that are reportedly still willing to go all in on signing him. All this vested interest from potential suitors gives him plenty of reasons to test the waters of free agency and see how things play out:
League sources Tuesday made it plain: 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.
Although Durant’s road to recovery is expected to be a long one, his decision will have a tremendous effect on the landscape of the NBA just like it did in 2016.
Despite the injury, the 10-time All-Star is still considered to be arguably the best player in the game, which could be why all reports suggest that he will be able to cash in with a team of his choosing this offseason.