Kevin Durant’s Achilles rupture in Game 5 of the 2019 Finals was a very unfortunate injury that not only put a very large nail in the coffin of the Warriors’ season (and possibly dynasty) but put shockwaves throughout the league that will have a huge effect on the next 5+ years in the NBA. He will most likely not be playing any of next season, but any team he wants will fall over themselves trying to sign him to a long-term contract anyway. This is one of the greatest scorers ever we are talking about, and even with an Achilles injury, which most players don’t come back from successfully, he at the very least will still retain his unreal shooting ability.
As Durant is a free agent this offseason, there was already plenty of speculation on where he would be playing the next few years. Stay in Golden State? Head to the big stage of the Knicks? Stay out West, but with the Clippers tough and hardnosed core? These three are definitely the heavy favorites, and his injury does not change that.
However, it is interesting to wonder if his injury may have opened up possibilities of other teams he could go to that he may have not considered previously. As he won’t be playing next year, he could sign with a lesser team- which would have a year to craft their roster around the 2020-21 season when Durant will be back- and make it perfect for him to insert into.
Here are 2 teams which have been unsuccessful recently, that I could see trying to pitch KD on this move in the next couple weeks leading up to the beginning of free agency.
The Bulls, since Derrick Rose’s injury issues, have been a team without direction for quite a few years now. However, with three strong young pieces in Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, and Zach Lavine, they finally look to be building towards the future. And with a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, they should be able to add to this very soon. While they would have to get rid of a couple contracts, especially Otto Porter if possible, Kevin Durant and the possibility of another free agent next offseason could make this team dangerous, especially in a weaker Eastern Conference.
The Hawks are another interesting team in a similar situation to the Bulls, but with a couple advantages in that they have more current cap room, what looks to be a future star in Trae Young, and a young core including Kevin Huerter (20 years old, 38.5% from three in rookie year), and John Collins (21 years old, averaged 19 pts and 10 rebs), along with the #8 pick in this year’s draft. All these pieces could be expendable at the acquisition of a star like KD. Of course, he would not want to be going back to the playoffs with a bunch of young players who have never been there. So the Hawks have the flexibility of moving these players and picks for more experience.
Again, the Warriors, Knicks, and Clippers are still huge, heavy favorites to land Kevin Durant. However, with how quickly a team’s fortunes can change, and how open the NBA seems to be for the next couple years, some of the lowly teams might want to look to strike and rise up the ladder of the NBA’s power rankings quickly.