Regardless of what happens with Kevin Durant and the Warriors in the NBA Finals, it seems most likely that Durant’s time in the Bay Area has come to a close. Set to be eligible to opt out of the last year of his deal and hit free agency, most assume Durant will test the market and look to bring down one of the largest free agent contracts in history.
While the Knicks seem to be the heavy favorite in terms of a potential landing spot, the Lakers are sneakily still in the running to land the superstar free agent. However, doing so would require shuffling around the money a BIT more in order to clear up a few extra million to accommodate Durant’s higher max salary (based on his service time).
Kevin Durant Lakers: L.A.’s Latest Chances to Land KD in Free Agency
Right now, all signs are pointing to Kevin Durant leaving the Golden State Warriors during the upcoming free agency period. With a hefty amount of the salary cap already dedicated to Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, both Klay Thompson and Durant are hitting the free agent market this summer. The Warriors can technically afford to bring back both (as they hold Bird Rights for both) but would take on one of the heftiest luxury taxes ever seen at the NBA level. As a result, they’re most likely forced to choose between the two.
Understandably, Durant hasn’t publicly spoken much on where he plans to take his talents next season. Coming back off a calf injury and with his Warriors on the brink of elimination in the NBA Finals, Durant’s focus is solely on getting back onto the court to try and salvage the series.
However, many analysts have speculated that following the season, Durant has the highest chance of joining the New York Knicks. Citing the desire to be the face of his own team and prove he can win outside the shadow of Curry, the Knicks offer a blank canvas to build his own legacy and are rightfully considered the betting favorites (-175) for Durant’s services.
While a bit of a longshot at this point, the Lakers are at least still on the board as they sit at +750 to land Durant’s services. Mostly thought to be pursuing other free agents like Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard the Lakers have become a bit of an afterthought when it comes to Durant.
Kevin Durant’s Lingering Calf Injury
Durant went down in game five of the second round in the playoffs against the Houston Rockets. While the Warriors were able to take the series and the Western Conference Finals against the Blazers without Durant, his absence has been felt MUCH more against the Raptors. Diagnosed with a “mild calf strain”, Durant’s injury proved to be anything but mild as he has been held out of games up until this point.
The worst-case scenario, for both the Warriors and Durant, is that Durant further injures his calf attempting to play through pain in a game five elimination tilt against the Raptors. If that happens, the Warriors will be stuck $10 million over the cap with free agent Klay Thompson likely looking for a max contract himself.