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Mourning Over and Assessing Kevin Durant’s Achilles’ Injury

Kevin Durant’s tragic injury has effects much deeper than the NBA Finals.

Image Credit-Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

A few hours after the Warriors held off Toronto in Game 5, it was confirmed that the Warriors medical staff believed that Kevin Durant had torn his Achilles’ tendon by ESPN Senior Writer Ramona Shelburne and ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski. A gut-wrenching thing to hear about any competitor.

This is bigger than rivalries, the NBA Finals, or basketball in general. We might have just lost one of the best offensive talents the NBA has ever seen. Somebody who has inspired many people to be the best they can be may have lost what makes him so special in Game 5. We’re sending our prayers up for you, KD. Nobody deserves what happened to you on Monday night.

When it comes to assessing the injury, this may be the saddest part. We all know what happened to Kobe Bryant, and I fear the same fate may be ahead for Durant.

At minimum, Durant will miss significant time in the coming season. Players with similar injuries missed around 6-12 months recovering from the injury. We probably won’t see Durant suit up until after the All-Star Break next season, and maybe not until the start of the 2020 season. And even when he comes back, he might never be the same again. The elite scoring ability and athleticism that Durant has put on display for his entire career might never be on display again. NBA players that make a full recovery from this type of injury are few and far between. This is truly a tragedy for true fans of basketball everywhere.

So what does this mean for the future of the league?

Free Agency may have taken yet another turn. Since this involves a player with perhaps the most gravity of any free agent, the forecast for the state of the league might also need to be updated.  This summer, it was widely expected that wherever Durant chose to sign, he would command a multi-year max contract, which teams would undoubtably given to a healthy Durant.

But now, that is not a certainty. Take DeMarcus Cousins as an example. After tearing his Achilles’, he was not offered a max contract from any team. The Pelicans only offered him a 2-year contract worth 40 million total. This led him to sign with the Warriors for one year, where he would try to prove he was worth the max to potential suitors. We can see that Cousins is not what he once was, and it’s clear that his post-surgery Achilles’ is the reason.

Because of the injury, teams will be more reluctant to give a large contract to Durant. That being said, Durant has a player option for the 2019-2020 season worth 31 million dollars. Opting out and looking for a new deal is not going to be more profitable for Durant, so I predict that he will accept his player option this summer and hope to prove that he is worth a multi-year max with his play next year. The Knicks, Nets, and Clippers will have to turn their eyes to other free agents in order to build their team in the offseason.

Kevin Durant will be staying in Golden State this offseason, whether he is on the court or not. And when the day comes for him to return, I hope that he is able to perform like the top player we know him to be, no matter what jersey he is wearing. Nobody deserves an injury like that, and all fans should be cheering for him to make a full recovery. We may never see a talent like him again and to lose him to injury would be the most unfair thing for Durant and a huge blow to the basketball world.

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