On Monday night, Warriors forward Kevin Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon in the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Though Golden State won that game 106-105, the injury is the bigger story.
After surgery on Wednesday, he released a statement on his Instagram:
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What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way. Like I said Monday, I'm hurting deeply, but I'm OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat. Its just the way things go in this game and I'm proud that I gave it all I physically could, and I'm proud my brothers got the W. It's going to be a journey but I'm built for this. I’m a hooper I know my brothers can get this Game 6, and I will be cheering with dub nation while they do it.
Coincidentally, John Wall also has a ruptured Achilles tendon from last winter.
Durant was expected to opt out of a two-year deal he signed with Golden State in 2018. Though he is still expected to do so, he could opt-in to the second year which is about $31.5 million for the 2019-20 season. And of course, there are teams lining up for a bidding war to get his attention. The New York Knicks are apparently still willing to make a run at him because they have enough cap space to sign two players to maximum-level deals, according to SNY.tv.
At any rate, Durant isn’t signing with the Wizards barring a massive pay cut. And even if he did, Durant is probably missing most of, if not ALL of the 2019-20 season along with Wall. How does his injury and free agency affect the Wizards?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojanarowski believes that Durant will only opt-in as a “last resort.” But if his Achilles is ruptured, teams will be less likely to throw a max contract at him, and he is more likely to stay put in the Bay Area.
If Durant opts-in, the Wizards may get more assets in a trade for Bradley Beal. Washington is already hamstrung with Ian Mahinmi’s and John Wall’s salaries on the books for 2019-20. They don’t figure to be very good in the short or medium term, so trading Beal makes sense. Teams that get wary about signing Durant will now be more open to acquiring Beal
And since Beal would be in more demand along with players like Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and ... Kawhi Leonard, it could help the Wizards get a head start on their next rebuild. Washington could have multiple young players and picks to develop a new team culture. But unlike past tear-it-down rebuilds, they will still have a veteran guard in Wall when he returns, partly because his salary won’t be movable for awhile.
It’s unclear exactly which players would come to Washington in a trade for Beal. And more importantly, the front office situation appears to be in caretaker status even if Tommy Sheppard is more-or-less the Wizards’ General Manager for awhile. But as unfortunate as Durant’s injury is for the NBA and the Warriors, it also presents a possible opportunity for the Wizards to make changes of their own depending on how free agency plays out in July.