The entire landscape of the NBA might have changed Monday night.
In an attempt to help his team dig their way out of a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, Kevin Durant played in Game 5 with a calf injury he sustained a month ago in the Western Conference semifinals. In the first half, Durant seemed to reaggravate the injury when making a move to get past Raptors forward Serge Ibaka and did not return after being helped off the floor.
Kevin Durant appears to aggravate his calf injury and heads to the locker room early in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/VXu3SmTS8Y— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2019
After the game, Warriors general manager Bob Myers said the injury Durant sustained in Game 5 was different than the calf injury that sidelined him for a month. In fact, it was an achilles injury, which Durant will have an MRI on tomorrow.
Bob Myers: “The initial injury was a calf injury. This is not a calf injury. I don’t know how they are related but this is a different injury.”— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 11, 2019
While the Warriors were able to win Game 5 and prolong the Finals for at least one more game, it's difficult not to think about the ramifications of Durant potentially missing significant time with such a serious injury.
Durant has the choice to opt out of the final year of his contract with Golden State and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. While he has refrained from talking about his free agency before the season ends, many seem to be convinced he will inevitably leave Golden State. The Knicks, Clippers and Nets figure to be his key suitors.
Durant's decision will seemingly impact multiple star free agents and the franchises those players decide to depart or stay with. If Durant is out for most of next season, perhaps some players considering teaming up with him will have to think twice about it. The first player that comes to mind is Kyrie Irving, who has been linked to Durant in multiple reports regarding their desire to team up, whether it be with the Knicks, Nets or Celtics.
The Celtics' decisions this offseason, including pursuing a trade for Anthony Davis, seem to hinge almost entirely on Irving's decision to re-sign or not. If Durant's health is a question or he picks up his player option to return to Golden State for at least one more season, how much would that sway Irving?
We'll see if Durant's MRI confirms the significance of his injury, but either way, another variable has been added to an already unbelievably uncertain offseason for the NBA.
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