Kevin Durant Rumors: Injury 'Has Done Little to Cool' Free-Agent Pursuers

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2019

TORONTO,ONTARIO - JUNE 10:  Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors consoles and injured Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Despite the looming possibility of missing the entire 2019-20 NBA season, Kevin Durant is reportedly still expected to be a priority on the free-agent market.

According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, the Achilles injury Durant suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals has "done little to cool the ardor" of the teams expected to pursue him, including the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Golden State Warriors reportedly fear that KD suffered a torn Achilles, an injury that can take a year or more to return from. Even then, few players are close to the same after coming back.

If Durant thinks his injury will impact his earning potential, he can still opt in to his contract with the Warriors for next season at $31.5 million.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst appeared Tuesday on First Take, however, and reported that Durant is still expected to test the market. He added that KD is "in such demand" that even missing a full year with a torn Achilles likely won't prevent him from landing a significant contract.

ESPN's Bobby Marks offered a similar take on Get Up!, reporting that he spoke to three teams who still plan to pursue Durant. Marks noted that KD is expected to get a contract in the neighborhood of $141 million over four years with no injury provisions.

After missing nine games with a calf strain, Durant showed his worth during Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors with 11 points in just 12 minutes before going down again.

Golden State went on to win 106-105 to force Game 6, but to come all the way back and three-peat, the Warriors must do it without the reigning two-time Finals MVP.

Durant will be 31 when the 2019-20 season begins, and he may not be able to contribute again until he's 32. Still, a league executive told Aldridge: "It's not like he's gonna fall from the top player in the league to No. 50, even with the Achilles. Maybe he falls into the top 10. I still think KD is a guy that's going to score 20, 25 a game."

For teams like the Knicks, Nets, Clippers and Lakers, he's still a tempting target even if he doesn't pay dividends until 2020-21.

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