The future of the NBA might have changed on Monday evening when Kevin Durant went down with what could be a torn Achilles in the second quarter of Game 5 of the Finals.
Durant, who had missed a month with a calf injury, will get an MRI today. The Warriors reportedly fear that the injury is a torn Achilles, arguably the worst injury a basketball player can suffer.
What happens now?
In the immediate future, the Warriors will attempt to win an NBA championship without him.
Then, in a couple of weeks, NBA free agency will begin. Durant, 30, can hit free agency if he doesn't opt into the final year of his contract. Until last night, Durant hitting free agency was a foregone conclusion.
Durant will probably still hit free agency, but will he receive the max offers everyone expected teams like the Knicks, Nets and Lakers to offer him? If his Achilles is torn, he'll likely be out for all of 2019-20.
ESPN's Bobby Marks said this morning that he spoke to three different teams. All three said they'd still offer Durant the max.
"I said ... If you had cap space, would you go out and sign Kevin Durant knowing that he will likely be out maybe the whole year? And the resounding answer was 'yes.' Each of the teams also said that they wouldn't even put any injury language in there for maybe years three and four to protect. So, yes, there will be a marketplace for Kevin Durant this summer, either with a team for four years, $141 million dollars or even back in Golden State here," he said.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley also weighed in. He believes there are still plenty of teams willing to sign Durant, even if it means paying him $40 million to sit out next season.
"The Knicks, the Nets, the Clippers, they can do without Kevin for a year. But can the Warriors pay all four of those guys and one of them's not going to play? That's an interesting financial situation," he said.