It’s the biggest question of the offseason — where will Kevin Durant sign in free agency?
Durant’s long-term future got even more complicated, though, when he ruptured his Achilles in the NBA Finals. It has been speculated that Durant would leave the Warriors in free agency, but his injury could throw his next move with any team for a loop.
Now it looks like there’s another option on the table.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Thursday on “Get Up” that the Warriors have “discussed” offering Durant a five-year deal to let him rehab next season 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 can get signing elsewhere, let him rehab and then work with him to be traded, potentially to New York, potentially to somewhere else,” Windhorst said. “It would be their way to sort of take care of him monetarily after what he just went through and also protect the franchise to some assets. If that happens, the Knicks would be in tremendous position to get back into it because they’re going to have some of these young assets plus cap space.
Windhorst later said: “For the lack of a better term, it would be a delayed sign-and-trade, because this is the only way Durant can get five years and play elsewhere. And I’ll just be honest with you, the Warriors going to this is 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 coming off of a devastating injury. He would be protected and get all of his money. Now, you have to trust the Warriors that they’d actually work with you in a trade, but it’s something that’s at least been discussed as an option.”
Durant had missed several games in the postseason to a calf injury, but returned for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors only to leave in the second quarter with yet another injury. He announced last week that he had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it’s likely he will miss all of next season as he recovers.
Durant can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $31.5 million option. He has been linked to the Knicks, Nets and Clippers as teams interested in signing the forward in free agency, which begins June 30 at 6 p.m. ET.