Kevin Durant’s achilles injury will impact much more than the ongoing NBA Finals. Durant is expected to hit free agency this summer, and while it’s believed he is still going to attract max contract offers from opposing teams, he’s still a guy in his 30s who just hurt his achilles, meaning there are questions that can’t be answered until he is able to step onto the floor again.
All of this leads to a question: Why not just opt into the final year of his contract, make $31.5 million, rehab in an environment that he knows, and hit free agency the following summer? It makes sense in theory, but in reality, that might not be Durant’s best course of action.
Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday morning and laid out the options in front of Durant, explaining that returning to the Warriors on his current contract really isn’t in the cards for now.
“I think opting in is the last resort,” Wojnarowski said. “$31.5 million for next season, that’s really if you couldn’t find any other team to commit to you on a contract. Because even if he opts out of the contract, and even if he did a short deal with another team, a two-year deal, that starts at $38 million. I still think there’s going to be a market for Kevin Durant to get a long-term, whether it’s max or near-max, contract. He’ll be 32 before he plays again if, indeed, he misses all of next season, but that $31 million opt in really is if there’s nothing else out there after canvassing the league, or if the Warriors decided that they didn’t want to do that.”
It makes all the sense in the world that Durant would want to do the smartest thing financially, and at the end of the day, his current contract doesn’t allow him to do that if there’s a market for his services. Whether that market is as robust as it’s expected to be or not remains to be seen, but for now, it seems like it’d take something unforeseen for Durant to return to the Warriors on his current deal.