The Golden State Warriors staved off elimination last night with a thrilling comeback in the final few minutes to win Game 5 of the NBA Finals, extending the series back to Oakland, and still giving them hope at a three-peat. Unfortunately, one of the best players in the world, Kevin Durant, won’t be participating anymore moving forward, as the two-time Finals MVP injured himself with what’s believed to be an Achilles injury, ending any hope that he would return for the remainder of the Finals.
Although the Warriors have, no doubt, missed Durant in this Finals when he’s not on the floor, they will surely miss him even more next season should the soon-to-be free agent bolts this summer. With rumors having swirled for months that KD might head to the New York Knicks or the Los Angeles Clippers, among other places, it might be time for the Golden State Warriors to think about what life without the one-time league MVP might be like.
However, given the state of his latest injury, there might be a chance that Kevin Durant returns to the team — which, according to Frank Isola of The Athletic — is something that the Warriors discussed prior to the Game 5, even saying that they were talking about putting together a pitch to extend his contract, giving him full control should he ever want to leave the team during that new deal.
“Durant’s state of mind is anyone’s guess. He may be upset with the Warriors medical staff and front office and could decide to bolt. The other two options would be to opt into his contract for one more season or take the financial security and sign a five-year extension with Golden State. According to a source, the Warriors were going to pitch Durant on signing long term, with the understanding that if he wanted to leave at any point during his contract the team would grant him that wish. That could still be in the works even with Durant likely to sit out most if not all of next season.”
That’s extremely interesting, and, at this point, risky. But with Kevin Durant now injured and set for a potentially grueling rehab, maybe the Golden State Warriors do get him back. Durant has a player option for $31.5 million this summer, and, because of his health, could decide to pick it up, get paid and stay with the Warriors, working himself back late next year before becoming a free agent next summer. He could also gamble on himself by declining the option and test the open market, or, assuming the Warriors would still be interested, could negotiate a long-term deal to stay in the Bay Area.
There’s no telling what Kevin Durant’s injury might have done for the landscape of the NBA. There’s no way in hell to know what’s going through his mind right now. But with the Golden State Warriors currently already having a leg up in terms of his contract status, it could mean the Dubs return a similar roster next year, even if Durant misses most of the season recovering from this injury.