The Brooklyn Nets have the cap space to sign two max free agents. With Kevin Durant potentially suffering a serious injury, should he still be a target this summer?
The Brooklyn Nets may have to reassess their free agency plans. In his first game back from a calf issue that sidelined him for a month, Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant suffered a potentially serious Achilles injury. If it was indeed a tear as many have speculated, Durant could be out for all of next season.
For some time now, it’s been assumed that Kevin Durant would headline this summer’s free agency class alongside the likes of Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard. Nets fans have specifically dreamt about a Durant-Irving pairing, as there have been some rumors that this could be in play. How much, if at all, could the injury change things?
All the chatter has suggested Durant will leave Golden State in free agency, but perhaps now he will accept his $31.5 million player option and stay with the Warriors one more season. There are two main reasons he might choose this path. First, if he can’t play next season anyway, he might prefer to stay with a training staff he presumably has gotten comfortable with. Recovering from an injury with a brand new training staff may be less than ideal.
Second, after suffering an injury, Durant might want to snatch up the $31.5 million on the table if the max offers don’t come rolling in. Injuries can derail careers, so he might just want to maximize his earnings while he can. The counterpoint to this, however, is that Durant might be able to make a comparable amount of money in free agency.
Signing a player that could miss an entire season is definitely a risk, especially if it’s a max deal. Some teams, however, including the Nets, might be willing to do it for a talent like Durant. Some players are never the same after these injuries, but there’s still hope he can be near the same player he has been.
If Durant accepts the player option, Brooklyn will have to put its pursuit of him on hold (at least for one season). But if he does want to leave, should the Nets remain as interested as they’ve ever been?
To reiterate, the possibility of Durant missing next season is definitely suboptimal, and it’s uncertain exactly what type of player he will be when he returns. But unless the Nets can get both Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving to fill their two max slots (which is very unlikely), it’s hard to justify not signing Durant if he’s interested.
When he’s right, or even close to right, he’s one of the best players in the world. Assuming other teams are willing to give him a max contract, the Nets should be willing to match this.
Despite the rumors, the odds are probably against Durant signing with the Nets. Regardless, the Nets front office needs to have a strategy.
A few days ago, the prospects of a Durant signing would make fanbases jump for joy. Now, the same signing would bring some newfound uncertainty. Even so, this shouldn’t reduce the appetite of any team, in particular the Brooklyn Nets, when it comes to pursuing KD in free agency.