NBA Finals 2019: Kevin Durant's injury and its multifold impact
In the second quarter of Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant limped off the court and didn't return. Initially, it was thought that Durant had just aggravated his already injured calf but according to Warriors General Manager Bob Myers, Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury.
The free agency picture
The landscape of free agency has changed. Kevin Durant is scheduled to be a free agent next month with rumors of him heading to the Knicks. Now the question is, will any team sign him this summer? Should teams be hesitant to pay Kevin Durant big money? No professional athlete wants to end their time with a team by going out with an injury, so there's an increased chance Durant will opt into his player option that he has with the Warriors.
Trust on medical staff
What is the status of the team doctors who claimed that Durant could not further worsen his injury by playing? Now, it's clear KD had no business playing in this series. The trust for team doctors just went down the drain.
Now, it looks like team doctors work in the best interests of the team over the long-term health of the player. It certainly seems the case at least for the Warriors right now. So don't be surprised if players trust independent doctors more from now on.
This could probably be the reason why Kawhi Leonard sought the opinions of independent doctors over San Antonio's team doctors when he had the quad injury. San Antonio's team doctors cleared Kawhi to return but Kawhi valued the opinion of the independent doctors more, knowing he was not feeling completely alright.
Warriors' mindset for the rest of NBA Finals 2019
Golden State clearly struggled in the first four games of the NBA Finals. In the second half of Game 4, fatigue started to creep in for the Warriors who have had to rotate an injury-depleted roster for many games.
The Warriors' best chance of winning games in this series is Stephen Curry playing nearly all of the second half in games and this can be expected to continue. Kevon Looney aggravated his chest injury in Game 5. Even if Looney was available to play in Game 6, much cannot be expected from him. Even with their victory in Game 5, it seems the Warriors only delayed the inevitable.