There’s never a good time for injuries, but the timing of Kevin Durant’s ruptured Achilles was particularly troublesome.
Durant sustained the ailment in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, which further diminished his and the Golden State Warriors’ chances of winning a third straight championship. Furthermore, free agency was just a few weeks away and the expected recovery time likely will wipe out the star forward’s entire 2019-20 campaign.
It’s anyone’s guess when KD actually will return, but when he does, he’ll be rocking a Nets uniform. Signing with Brooklyn, at least on paper, was a sound choice by Durant, but Jalen Rose believes the decision would have been different had the two-time Finals MVP not gone down with a serious injury.
“KD went from being the lead domino and trying to persuade Kyrie Irving which team they should play for to getting injured and having to miss an entire year to Kyrie Irving persuading him what they should play for,” Rose said Wednesday ESPN’s “Jalen & Jacoby.” “You clearly see who won out because one guy is going to be playing this year, another guy has to come back from injury. You need somebody to hold it down while you’re not out there, they’re the best of friends, so it makes sense for them to pair up. That’s what ended up making it be for the Nets instead of the Knicks.”
Rose continued: “There was one person doing the convincing once KD got injured. That person was Kyrie Irving. And if you’re KD, you have to have both ears open because you are going to miss a season. You don’t want the franchise you just joined to take steps back on and off the floor. You need somebody that you look forward to coming back and playing with. We know he wasn’t going to play with LeBron (James) and AD (Anthony Davis). He didn’t want to team up with Kawhi because Kawhi reached out. Jimmy Butler went and did his own thing. So in the game of musical chairs, everybody is moving around and then the music stops. Playing in New York City was something he already wanted to do. He moved his company there through the season. When it was time to get his surgery and the doctors that were looking over him, they were already New York-based. This was going to be where he decided to play. The team ultimately was the final choice. Kyrie Irving and the Nets, obviously, won out.”
It’s tough to blame Durant for wanting some sense of security. Not to mention, the Nets feature an above-average supporting cast which should make the franchise a legitimate title contender upon Durant’s return. The Knicks, meanwhile, are a perpetual dumpster fire, and even if they managed to acquire KD and Irving, things likely would have found a way to go off the rails.
Durant’s legend would have grown to new heights if he was able to restore championship glory to the Knicks. But that’s a big if, and it’s easy to understand why he didn’t take the risk.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images