Durant’s Injury Rocks NBA Teams Poised to Dangle $160 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Kevin Durant’s injury left his teammates shaken, his general manager in tears and, in the bigger picture, a number of teams recalculating what to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars they had planned to spend this summer.

“I bet assistant general managers walked in this morning, put their feet up and said, ‘Holy s---,’” said Richard Peddie, a former chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Raptors. “They all have to pause now.” The Raptors have a 3-2 lead over Durant’s Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

The Warriors said Durant, a former National Basketball Association most valuable player, sustained an Achilles injury during Monday night’s win over the Raptors. He’ll have a magnetic-resonance imaging scan Tuesday. If it shows a tendon tear, Durant would probably miss all of next season, and face an arduous rehabilitation that has left some players struggling to find their preinjury form, Peddie said.

Durant’s Injury Rocks NBA Teams Poised to Dangle $160 Million

Durant, 30, was widely expected to opt out of his contract with the Warriors after the season, making him a free agent able to sign with any team. There were plenty of suitors, including the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Free Agency

Should Durant opt for free agency, he’s eligible to receive a five-year contract worth about $221 million from the Warriors, who are vying for their third consecutive championship. NBA rules, designed to favor incumbent teams, allow for him to receive four years and about $160 million from any other club.

“These teams have got to be saying, ‘Whoa, that’s a lot of money to pay him not to play,’” Peddie said.

If he doesn’t opt out of the contract, and remains with the Warriors, Durant would be paid about $31 million next season and would become a free agent for the following year.

Much of the NBA speculation has centered on which player would join Durant and where. Boston’s Kyrie Irving is a free agent, and New Orleans’s Anthony Davis has demanded a trade.

“That young fella is one of the top three players in the league,” Peddie said of Durant. “Now, let’s say no one wants to really take a chance on him -- or they wanna take a chance on him for one year or a much-reduced salary. Golden State has a difficult thing. This guy could come back to them not for the right reasons, and it’s almost like they have to pay him.”

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