Despite the Warriors 106-105 season-saving victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Bob Myers mood was anything but cheerful. Golden State’s president of basketball operations tearfully took responsibility for rushing Kevin Durant back to the court, which ended with a confirmed Achilles injury in the second quarter. The severity is not yet known until after an MRI.
“I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand in this world and if you have to, you can blame me,” Myers said in the postgame. “I run our basketball operations department. And to tell you something about Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong.”
One person who definitively blames him and Warriors management: Charles Barkley. The Hall of Famer derided the decision to bring Durant back on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
“You’ve been asking these guys all morning if there’s someone to blame,” Barkley said. “Yes, there is somebody to blame: the Golden State Warriors for putting KD out there. Listen, that was not right.”
He went on to say the negative press about Durant sitting the NBA Finals made him overly competitive, which the Warriors used to lure him back to the court too quickly.
“I don’t care what (the Warriors) say about it,” he continued. “They shouldn’t have put that man out there. You know how I know it? He blew out his Achilles.
“To put a guy who hadn’t played basketball in over a month into Game 5 of the Finals, who had some type of move around the day before, I don’t think that’s fair to that man.”
Myers, meanwhile, said that he and Durant and team officials didn’t take the decision to bring him back lightly.
“Prior to him coming back, he went through four weeks with our medical team,” Myers explained. “It was thorough with multiple experts and multiple doctors and multiple MRIs. And we felt good about the process. He was cleared to play tonight. That was a collaborative decision.”
Kevin Durant Injury: Affect on 2020 Free Agency
Our own Jonathan Adams offered his take on how the potential severe injury affects Durant’s free agency future going forward into this summer and beyond.
Durant was expected to exercise a player-option this summer, but the Warriors All-Star could delay his free agency until 2020. While the exact timeline for Durant’s recovery is uncertain, there is a legitimate chance he misses the majority of next season. There would still likely be teams lining up to sign him regardless, but we will have to see if it factors into his decision to explore free agency on July 1st.
NBC Sports Tommy Beer detailed Durant’s options.
“Durant does have a $31.5 million player option for next season. If this is the worst-case scenario, KD may [choose] to exercise that option and enter free agency in 2020. Way more questions than answers right now. Just a brutal blow for KD, who risked his prime to help his team,” Beer tweeted.
According to SB Nation, Achilles injuries typically take six months to a year to recover.