Appearing on ESPN's Get Up!, Barkley expressed his belief that the Warriors pressured KD into returning after the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP had missed the previous nine contests with a calf strain:
"You've been asking these guys all morning if there's somebody to blame. Yes, there is somebody to blame: the Golden State Warriors for putting KD out there. Listen, that was not right. If you go back and look at the last two weeks—the article comes out, KD's worst nightmare that the Warriors are winning without him. Then you come out, you read the articles, the Warriors are really unhappy that KD won't risk his Achilles, they're frustrated with KD. Now this man has to be feeling some type of way, so I blame the Warriors for KD getting hurt, and I don't care what they say about it. They shouldn't have put that man out there. You know how I know it? Because he blew out his Achilles."
Durant scored 11 points in 12 minutes before exiting early in the second quarter with a non-contact injury. Per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, the Warriors believe an MRI will show that Durant suffered a torn Achilles.
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Even if Durant insisted on being inserted back into the lineup, Barkley feels the Warriors should have prevented him from being put in harm's way:
"I don't think you can ever leave it up to a player. Players always want to play. But ... to put a guy, who hasn't played basketball in over a month into Game 5 of the Finals, and had some type of move around the day before, I don't think that's fair to that man, and you saw the result—it's just not fair. It's Game 5 of the world championship. He hasn't played real basketball in a month. That's unfair to put him in that situation, and the proof is in the pudding, plain and simple."
Even without Durant, Golden State overcame a six-point deficit with three minutes remaining in regulation to win 106-105, cut the series deficit to 3-2 and force a Game 6 on Thursday.
Durant suffered his calf injury in Game 5 of Golden State's second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets on May 8. It wasn't until Sunday that he returned to practice, more than a month later.
After Monday's game, Warriors general manager Bob Myers noted that the decision for Durant to play was collaborative. Even so, an emotional Myers said he was willing to take the blame:
Durant's decision to play in Game 5 could adversely impact his value as a free agent provided he opts out of the final year of his deal as expected.
As a 10-time All-Star, two-time NBA Finals MVP and one-time NBA MVP, a healthy KD would command whatever he wants on the open market. However, since he could miss the entire 2019-20 season, that may no longer be the case.
On Tuesday's episode of Get Up!, NBA front-office analyst Bobby Marks said he spoke with three teams about Durant, and all three indicated they still plan to pursue him despite the uncertainty about his status.
Marks said KD could get a deal in the neighborhood of $141 million over four years. He added that the teams said they wouldn't include any injury language in the contract.
While Marks' report suggests the injury may not hinder KD's earning potential, it could cost him a year of his career, and Barkley feels the Warriors are responsible.