Kevin Durant was slated to be an NBA free agent in less than a month, but things are much less certain after KD’s Achilles injury. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the entire NBA landscape changed after Durant’s injury given teams spent years to clear cap space to try to make a run at Durant.
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.
We will not know the official timeline for Durant’s recovery until after Tuesday’s MRI results are revealed. According to SB Nation, Achilles injuries typically take six months to a year to recover. Hoops Hype detailed why an Achilles injury can be a scary thing for NBA players.
What makes an Achilles injury so devastating? Chauncey Billups, who was 35 years old when his tear occurred, pointed out that it was all of the subsequent injuries that doomed his comeback. Even after his Achilles healed, there was always something wrong with his body. The injuries stemmed from his Achilles issue, but it wasn’t the tear in particular that haunted him. Imagine an Achilles injury as an initial crack in a windshield. Every little thing can make it worse, causing new issues left and right.
Several NBA Players Sustained Additional Injuries After Returning From an Achilles Injury
We have seen NBA players return from an Achilles injury only sustain additional injuries. Kobe Bryant and DeMarcus Cousins are two players that come to find as recent examples of players that sustained Achilles injuries in the NBA only to be sidelined once again for a separate issue. SB Nation detailed what studies have found when it comes to players’ recovery after sustaining an Achilles injury.
According to a 2013 medical study that identified 18 players who suffered major Achilles injuries over a 23-year span (1988-2011), seven players never returned to the league. Players who returned missed an average of 56 games and saw their PER decline in their first and second seasons back. A 2015 CBS Sports article found that among 14 players who returned from Achilles injuries since 1992, they averaged fewer minutes while both their field goal and three-point percentages dropped, on average. There are very few complete success stories.