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SportHow Kevin Durant's injury alters the NBA landscape — this summer and beyond

22:01  11 june  2019
22:01  11 june  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

'People gravitate toward him': How first-year coach Nick Nurse has Raptors in NBA Finals

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Kevin Durant ' s injury could have a ripple effect throughout the NBA , from the Warriors to free Durant and free agency. This summer will change the NBA landscape for at least the next few His injury already alters the 2019-20 season. Durant has options. He doesn’t have to become a free

How Kevin Durant ’ s injury could affect his free agency. Could Durant actually stay with the Warriors? The rehab is long and grueling, and there is concern the Kevin Durant ’ s summer got a lot more interesting when he suffered what is believed to be a torn Achilles during Game 5 of the NBA Finals

TORONTO – Rarely is an NBA Finals victory as subdued as Golden State’s Game 5 win over Toronto on Monday.

But rarely does an NBA Finals game see a devastating injury to one of the game’s stars.

Now what for Kevin Durant?

His latest injury sustained in Golden State’s win – and the concern is that it’s an Achilles tear – could have a ripple effect not only on Durant and Golden State’s prospects of winning a third consecutive NBA championship, but on Durant’s future, free agency this summer, the 2019-20 season and the NBA record books.

Warriors running low on time for Kevin Durant’s return

Warriors running low on time for Kevin Durant’s return Nearly a month after the Warriors dubbed forward Kevin Durant’s right calf strain “mild,” they have yet to clear Durant to scrimmage — much less play an NBA Finals game. The lingering uncertainty surrounding the two-time Finals MVP’s health has left some within the organization questioning whether they’ll see Durant — an unrestricted free agent this summer — in a Golden State uniform again. Asked Thursday when he expects Durant to participate in a scrimmage, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was vague, saying only, “I think that’s something that will happen in the coming days.

The tragic turn of events threatens to alter Durant ' s trajectory and shake up the NBA ' s upcoming TORONTO -- The grief that followed Kevin Durant ' s Achilles tendon injury emanated outward in waves. There is no good timing for such a traumatic event, but the circumstances here are beyond

While everyone is focused on Kevin Durant and how his injury will impact free agency this summer , Anthony In fact, Paul says Davis won't be signing an extension anywhere this summer and that he plans to test How Kevin Durant ' s injury alters the NBA landscape — this summer and beyond .

The implications are far, wide and deep.

The extent of the injury won’t be known until the Warriors get results of an MRI scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. But there is a clinical exam called the Simmonds-Thompson test which doctors and athletic trainers use to test for an Achilles rupture, according to certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts.

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While the Warriors wait for the MRI, they fear the worst. Late Monday night, emotional Warriors general manager Bob Myers had trouble getting words out in defense of Durant and his desire to get back on the court following the strained calf he sustained on May 8 against Houston in the Western Conference semifinals.

How Kevin Durant’s injury could affect his free agency

How Kevin Durant’s injury could affect his free agency Could Durant actually stay with the Warriors?

IMPLICATIONS: Injury alters NBA landscape — this summer and beyond . It will be incredibly frustrating for Durant andthe longest stretch of his basketball -playing life without playing basketball . But he can also use it as motivation to return and try to be the kind of player he was before the injury .

Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors reacts after sustaining an injury during the second TORONTO — The grief that followed Kevin Durant ‘ s Achilles tendon injury emanated outward in waves. There is no good timing for such a traumatic event, but the circumstances here are beyond

Durant’s immediate future

If those worst fears are confirmed, Durant will likely miss next season. Achilles ruptures are not all that common, at least compared to other serious injuries such as torn anterior cruciate ligaments in the knee. Though there have been some serious Achilles injuries across the NBA in recent years, including ones sustained by big-name players: Kobe Bryant, Brandon Jennings, Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and now Durant.

The NBA is looking closely at Achilles injuries because of the potential impact they have on a player’s long-term career. The league doesn’t have a large sample size to study, but it does know the structure of the tendon changes over time and could become more susceptible to a rupture. The NBA is trying to figure out why it happens to some players and not others.

Regardless, it’s an injury that likely sidelines a player for a season and can have an impact on that player’s future. Cousins, who sustained his Achilles rupture in 2018, missed the equivalent of a full season – half of one season, half of another – and then sustained a quadriceps injury 32 games after returning.

Opinion: Warriors' Kevin Durant buckling up for his longest year after Achilles injury

Opinion: Warriors' Kevin Durant buckling up for his longest year after Achilles injury Rehabbing an Achilles rupture is slow and difficult, testing a player’s mental fortitude as much as his or her physical limits. Just ask Kobe Bryant.

How will Durant ' s injury affect the free agent market? The few people I've spoke to in the league since this happened are of the opinion that there will Brooklyn Nets: The Nets traded Allen Crabbe to the Hawks and in doing so opened up the possibility of creating two max salary spots this summer (they

Kevin Durant ' s injury , wild free agency send shockwaves through the NBA . Consider the headlines crammed in between Durant ’ s injury and Leonard’ s decision, and the cumulative ramifications of them. And there were so many big names out there this summer , which hasn’t happened often.

The rehab is long and grueling, and there is concern the player will never be the same.

The here and now for Golden State

The Warriors were down 3-1 in the Finals against the Raptors before Durant’s brief return in Game 5. In his short time on the court – 11 minutes, 57 seconds – Durant scored 11 points and made all three 3-pointers he attempted. He helped Golden State to an early 39-34 lead at the time of his injury, and the Warriors extended their advantage to 52-39.

Durant helped Golden State win, and you can argue that if he hadn’t played in Game 5, the series would be over and the Raptors would be celebrating their first NBA championship. His early scoring was necessary for the Warriors to force a sixth game.

Without Durant for the rest of the series, the Warriors have to deal with the emotions of losing a star while combatting the relentless Raptors. Golden State had a 77-63 lead in the third quarter, lost the lead and needed a 9-2 run to close out the game and win by a point.

Story continues below gallery.

Coming back from a 3-1 deficit is difficult under any circumstances. Doing it under these circumstances seems particularly arduous. Teams with a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals are 33-1 and just three times have those series been forced to a Game 7.

How Kevin Durant's injury could change the fate of five NBA teams

How Kevin Durant's injury could change the fate of five NBA teams When Kevin Durant went down with a torn Achilles, the future became murky. Not only for Durant and the Warriors, but for the rest of the NBA. Durant is arguably the best player in the league, and what he decides to do once free agency begins on June 30 could change the league for years. Durant has options. He could exercise his player option and stay with the Warriors for another year; test the free-agency waters and sign a max contract elsewhere; or re-sign with the Warriors for the long-term to try and keep the dynasty rolling.

There are also potential repercussions for the Warriors' medical and athletic training staff who cleared Durant to play. Don't forget, Chelsea Lane, a highly-respected performance therapist, left the Warriors after last season for a similar job with the Atlanta Hawks. Myers said no one is to blame, but should Durant have played?

Durant and free agency

This summer will change the NBA landscape for at least the next few seasons. Durant can be a free agent along with other stars: Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton.

Who will play where and with whom has been a focal point of this NBA season. What Durant decides to do will impact what other players decide to do. His injury already alters the 2019-20 season.

Durant has options. He doesn’t have to become a free agent. He can choose to opt in to the final year of his contract with the Warriors at $31.5 million and become a free agent in the summer of 2020. How Durant feels about how Golden State handled his injury may play a role, too.

If he decides to become a free agent, he will have suitors who will offer him a max contract despite the fact he will likely miss next season if it’s a ruptured Achilles. That possibly jeopardizes the idea of Durant teaming up with another star – perhaps Irving with one of the New York teams.

Kevin Durant's Achilles Injury and the Potential Legal Implications

Kevin Durant's Achilles Injury and the Potential Legal Implications Kevin Durant suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon that could have career-altering implications. While much of the focus has centered on the events that led to his injury, The Crossover considers what's next and whether Durant will remain content with the care he received.

If free agency wasn’t going to be hectic enough, this throws another unknown into the equation.

Durant in the record books

Durant will turn 31 on Sept. 29 – still in the prime of his career age-wise. But he is on the verge of losing a season of his prime to injury. Durant is one of the NBA’s all-time great scorers, a versatile 6-11 forward who can get his shot anytime, at any spot on the court.

He is No. 31 on the league’s all-time scoring list and was – before the injury – two seasons away from moving close to the top 15. At 29, he became the second-youngest player to reach 20,000 career points. There are few players who have ever scored with skill and grace like Durant.

With a long and healthy career, Durant has a chance at passing Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for No. 1 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

While passing Abdul-Jabbar is difficult for any player – LeBron James has a chance, too – Durant’s prospects take a hit if his injury is as serious as it's feared to be.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How Kevin Durant's injury alters the NBA landscape — this summer and beyond

Related slideshow: The 2019 NBA Finals (Provided by imagn)

How Kevin Durant's injury alters the NBA landscape — this summer and beyond

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