Appearing Thursday on Get Up, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that one option on the table is for the Warriors to sign Durant to a max extension and then trade him:
"One of the things that is being discussed right now is that the Golden State Warriors would offer Kevin Durant a five-year contract, $57 million extra than he could get signing elsewhere, let him rehab and then work with him to be traded. Potentially to New York, potentially to somewhere else. It would be their way to sort of take care of him monetarily after what he just went through and also protect the franchise and get some assets."
Durant tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals after missing the previous nine games with a calf strain. Given the nature of his injury, it is possible that the two-time NBA Finals MVP could miss the entire 2019-20 season.
Per Windhorst, signing and trading Durant would be a quid pro quo situation in that KD would get the biggest contract allowable following his injury, while Golden State would be able to recoup some assets by trading him rather than seeing him walk in free agency:
"For lack of a better term, it would be a delayed sign and trade. It's the only way Durant could get five years and play elsewhere. ... The Warriors go into this as a bit of a last-ditch effort to not lose Kevin Durant for nothing. And what he would get out of it would be an extra $57 million come off of a devastating injury. He would be protected and get all of his money. Now, he'd have to trust the Warriors that they would actually work with you on a trade, but it's something that has at least been discussed."
Durant can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines the $31.5 million option in his contract as expected.
If Durant opts out of his deal with the Warriors and signs as a free agent with one of the other teams he has been linked to, such as the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets or Los Angeles Clippers, the maximum length of time he can sign for is four years.
Given the fact that KD is recovering from a torn Achilles and may be 32 years old by the time he next appears in an NBA game, an extra year of security could be attractive.
The biggest obstacle is the fact that Durant may not get to choose precisely where he gets traded unless his contract includes a no-trade clause that significantly restricts the team that owns his rights.
Golden State has some major question marks surrounding its roster entering next season. Along with Durant, Klay Thompson is a free agent, and he tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, which means he could miss all of 2019-20 as well.
Even if Thompson re-signs with the Warriors, it looks as though they will enter next season with only two of their "Big Four" intact in the form of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Trading Durant for some pieces to support Curry and Green could go a long way toward helping Golden State maintain its waning status as a contender in the Western Conference.