Congratulations to the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors. Moving on!
I don’t want to take away from anything the Raptors did last night, but the bigger story here might be on the other side of the Finals. Not only did this loss for the Warriors potentially put an end to their dynasty, but two of the top players in the NBA suffered a career-altering injury during this series.
Kevin Durant returned during Game 5 after suffering a calf strain nearly a month prior. He tried to give his team the boost it needed to come back in the series, but he lasted only one full quarter before going down with a ruptured Achilles. Just one game later, Klay Thompson would have an awkward landing after going up for a dunk, resulting in a torn ACL in his left knee.
Two all-star talents could be gone for an entire NBA season. But more to the point, both are in a position to hit NBA free agency *this* offseason. And the way that plays out now is a little less certain.
Initially, Durant was viewed as the most desired free agent grab. Now, considering the expected recovery timeline, it’s more than likely teams will reconsider how they approach him this offseason. To be sure, he *could* return to Golden State on a one-year $31.5 million player option, but he’ll have to make that call by June 29th when those decisions are due. Thompson, on the other hand, will only be returning to the Warriors if he gets a brand new deal, as he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
In any case, it seems each player will (most likely) have the option to return to the Warriors on a whole new max contract. At least that’s what ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has reported.
Signing both Durant and Thompson on a max contract wouldn’t have necessarily felt like a realistic outcome a couple of days ago, but considering the skepticism on their future health that may enter front office’s minds around the league, it wouldn’t be a surprising move.
At least for Thompson, according to his father, there is “no question” we will be continuing to see him in a Golden State jersey in the years to come.
Just spoke with Klay Thompson's father, Mychal, who said there's "no question" Klay will re-sign with the Warriors. Golden State is expected to still offer him a full five-year maximum deal.
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) June 14, 2019
The impact here for the Chicago Bulls isn’t substantial, but the fact that this influences the market overall means the team could suffer from the ripple effect. Durant was linked to team’s in the east (specifically the Knicks) for several months now. If Durant ends up staying out west with the Warriors, the eastern conference could be shaping up better for the Bulls to work their way up the totem poll. I know Durant would only influence one team, but if it did end up being the Knicks, that just adds one more team that could take a playoff spot away from the Bulls.
Also, some teams may have these two-star players off their board, and then begin to scoop up those free agents who belong in the tier below them. If some teams chose not to save their money for a Durant or Thompson type, now the Bulls could have a bit more competition for the Patrick Beverley, Ricky Rubio and Darren Collinson types. Teams may also turn to Malcolm Brogdon or D’Angelo Russell, the two biggest names that have been discussed as options for the Bulls (this has mostly been complete speculation).
Regardless of all this free agency talk, let’s just remember that we all should be hoping the best for Durant and Thompson. The NBA is better when they’re on the court.