I guess we’ll have to deal with this.
With Kevin Durant going down a torn achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the free agent world has turned upside down. A torn Achilles will put KD in recovery and rehab for months, maybe even a year.
So teams like the Nets, who believed they were in the running, will have to re-evaluate, as will Durant. The first decision will be surgery ... there are some non-surgical options for partial tears. Then within the next three weeks, he will have to decide whether he should opt out of his $31.5 million expiring contract. At that point the questioning switches to those teams, including the Warriors, who want to sign him.
On one hand, he may decide for the comfort of rehabbing in California, not starting over with a new performance team. If he does that, the biggest name in 2019 free agency goes off the market. On the other, if he’s looking for security —and after a major injury, that has to be a consideration— he opts out and waits for bids, again including from the Warriors.
KD was guaranteed the max, probably with a healthy track kicker and maybe money up front. Now, the decision tree for NBA teams —not just Brooklyn— breaks down like this: do we offer him a deal at all? and if so, do we insert all sorts of injury protections in the offer, protecting ourselves from a third major leg injury?
Bobby Marks on ESPN Tuesday morning said that he had spoken with representatives of four NBA teams asking if they would still sign KD. Marks said before he could get the question out, “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,” added the Nets former assistant GM.
Still, these will be tough decisions. A four year deal for Durant would be valued at $141 million. Should he opt in or want a max without protections or the Nets decide not to go with him, they can move in other directions. The drumbeat on Kyrie Irving has been deafening but does he come without another superstar? Brooklyn has been linked to other big free agents this spring with Philly’s Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris being mentioned most prominently. The team’s hope of luring Kawhi Leonard seems dead. And what about D’Angelo Russell?
After last week’s Allen Crabbe trade, the Nets have a ton of cap space, enough with smaller moves, to sign two max free agents. If they strike out, it’s not the end of the world, but it will mean the Nets will have to postpone achieving the next level of their rebuild.
Problem is that trade virtually eliminated them from the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. They traded first round picks in 2019 and 2020 and league rules would prohibit them from trading a first before 2022. As Woj explained Monday, New Orleans is looking for a mix of picks and young players, preferably an All-Star. He also noted that teams that can’t offer good picks will have to compensate with younger players. And as Pooch explained, the Nets don’t want to give their future.
Bottom line is that the Nets have crucial, potentially franchise-changing decisions to make. Best guess here is that KD opts out. Whatever he gets, protections or not, will be greater than the $31.5 million Golden State would pay him.
As for the Nets, not making a prediction. However, Sean Marks et all have generally been a conservative bunch. They make calculated and analytics-based choices but at the end of the day, they’re not afraid of risks. They must start deciding what to do starting now. We would expect a lot of movement next week, then leading up to the June 30 start of free agency. It’s not an exaggeration to say what happened Monday night has the potential to change the NBA.
Until then, we wait ... and offer our best wishes to KD. He deserved better.