In an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, Kevin Durant seemed to suffer a major setback as he tried to make a comeback in game five of the NBA Finals. Hobbled by a calf strain for the past month and unable to play since leaving game five of the Warriors’ second-round series against the Rockets, Durant seemed to sustain a considerably worse injury to the Achilles’ tendon of his same leg.
While the NBA anxiously awaits the hope of good news from the MRI, reports indicate that the Warriors believe Durant ruptured his Achilles’ tendon and the video evidence seems to back that up. While everyone’s first priority should be wishing Durant a quick and setback-free recovery, the fact remains that his injury could have a major impact on the landscape of the NBA over the next few seasons.
Kevin Durant’s Injury Could Impact Lakers’ Chances to Land Klay Thompson
If it turns out that the Warriors’ initial assumptions are correct and Durant did indeed rupture his Achilles’, he would almost certainly not see the court for the entirety of next season. Durant could hit the free agent market this summer but if he decides it is in his best interest to stay in the Bay Area and rehab his Achilles’, he has the option to opt into a $31 million contract for next season. If Durant does this, the Warriors will be sitting around $10 million over the cap before even turning their attention to Klay Thompson.
At the end of the day, the Warriors can still TECHNICALLY offer Thompson a max salary in this situation (shout out Bird Rights) but they would incur what would be one of, if not THE, biggest luxury tax penalty in the history of the sport. With a number of roster spots still needed to fill out around their superstars as well, the Warriors would be paying an ungodly amount of money to keep the band together. As a result, it makes sense that if Durant opts into his deal, the money that was expected to go to Klay now goes to Durant and the Warriors, unfortunately, lose their sharpshooting two guard.
If this scenario ends up happening, Thompson is a perfect fit for what the Lakers are looking for and would thrive in an off-ball role with Lonzo Ball and LeBron James dishing dimes to the deadly efficient scorer. Thompson is rumored to be a part of Space Jam 2 and his father was a key component to the legendary Showtime Lakers in the 80s. With the cap space to bring him on board, Klay and the Lakers could be a perfect fit if things go south in Golden State.
Kevin Durant Free Agency Options
Durant still seems ready to move on from the Warriors and while he could most likely hit the open market and command a max deal with the understanding that he wouldn’t be fully healthy until year three (after missing year one and getting his game back in year two), most teams would feel a bit more comfortable wasting that first year on a rehabbing Durant considering how much money is required to bring him on board.
The Knicks are desperate to the point where they would probably try and still get something done this offseason but the injury essentially eliminates fringe contenders like the Lakers from the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.