- Durant has been the subject of speculation that he may join the New York Knicks as a free agent at the end of this season
- Knicks took bold steps to free up cap space for next season, most notably trading rising star Kristaps Porziņģis to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this season
- The injury that Durant suffered on Monday night could impact his value on this summer’s NBA free agent market, leading him to exercise his option to remain with the Golden State Warriors next season
Kevin Durant’s highly anticipated return to action on Monday night proved to be short-lived. Sidelined since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 5 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Houston Rockets, Durant’s attempt to spark the struggling Warriors by rejoining the team in Monday’s clash with the Toronto Raptors came to speedy end, with the two-time defending NBA Finals MVP going down with an apparent Achilles tendon injury in the first half of Golden State’s narrow 106-105 victory.
With Durant’s season now likely done, the odds of him leaving Golden State as a free agent this summer have gained new life, with the New York Knicks emerging as the heavy favorite to be his next destination, sporting short -225 odds on the NBA specials at MyBookie.
Team to Sign Kevin Durant for 2019/2020 Season
|Team||Odds at MyBookie||Odds at Bovada||Odds at BetOnline|
|New York Knicks||-225||-175||+150|
|Golden State Warriors||+150||+210||+150|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+400||+500||+300|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+400||+750||+1000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||N/A||+2500||+10000|
*All odds taken 06/11/19
Durant the Subject of Season-Long Speculation
Speculation over where Durant will play next season has been rampant throughout the current campaign. The 30-year-old is in the first year of a two-year contract that paid him $30 million this season, and includes an option that allows him to opt out this summer and test the waters of unrestricted free agency.
Kevin Durant deserves all the credit in the world but let’s not act like he put his payday on the line. Even if it’s worst case scenario and he tore his Achilles he could still get a max contract, a 1 and 1, or whatever he wants because… pic.twitter.com/yv5FAcIK7b
— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) June 11, 2019
There are lots of reasons why Durant is likely to go the free agent route. Other NBA teams could offer the 10-time NBA all-star a four-year contract valued in excess of $164 million. The long-suffering Knicks, who have missed the NBA playoffs in each of the past six seasons, took bold steps to free up the salary cap space to ink Durant to such a lucrative contract, most notably by dealing rising star Kristaps Porziņģis, whose salary cap hit will rise dramatically to over $17 million next season.
Porziņģis Deal Opens Door for Move to the Knicks
In the days following the late-January trade that sent Porziņģis to the Dallas Mavericks, the odds of Durant opening the 2019/2020 season as a member of the Knicks sat at a lengthy +170, before vaulting to -125 just prior to the start of this year’s NBA Finals.
— Mad Dog Sports Radio (@MadDogRadio) February 5, 2019
Durant certainly owns a track record that could entice an NBA team to risk signing him to a max contract despite the severity of his injury
Durant certainly owns a track record that could entice an NBA team to risk signing him to a max contract despite the severity of his injury. A four-time NBA scoring champion, Durant has been key to the Warriors’ championship runs in each of the past two years, and was a steady performer in Golden State this season, scoring 26.0 points per game during the regular season, and leading the team with 32.3 points per game in 12 playoff games prior to his initial injury on May 8.
Lengthy Rehab Could Mean an Extended Stay in Golden State
However, this summer’s free agent market is expected to be a who’s who of superstar NBA talent this summer. In addition to Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker are also eligible for free agency this summer, providing teams with money to spend with plenty of free agent options.
Top 15 NBA Free Agents in my ranking preference: pic.twitter.com/IBRS35Jpkw
— Peter Da Sports GAWD (@Pacman453323) June 3, 2019
In addition, depending on the severity of his injury, Durant could be facing a lengthy stretch of rehab that could stretch well into next season, potentially impacting his value on the open market.
Under those circumstances, Durant could elect to exercise his option to stay in Golden State next season, and earn $31.5 million while taking the slow steps back to recovery before testing free agency in the summer of 2020. That very real possibility makes the Warriors the value bet to have Durant in the fold for the start of next season, with attractive +150 odds.
Pick: Golden State Warriors (+150)
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