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4 Ways Kevin Durant's Injury Significantly Affects NBA Free Agency

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors is assisted off the court after sustaining an injury in the first half against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen

Kevin Durant's Achilles injury could sideline him for a year and have a significant impact on his career. When you're arguably best player in the world, your absence creates a ripple effect. This is especially true as Durant is expected to be a free agent this summer among a star-studded cast. Now what's going to happen?

Here are four ways KD's injury could affect NBA free agency.

4. Does Durant Opt-in?

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors is assisted off the court after sustaining an injury in the first half against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
2019 NBA Finals - Game Five | Claus Andersen

The first question to answer is whether or not Durant opts into his $31.5 million player option or opts out to seek a longer deal. DeMarcus Cousins was lowballed after he suffered an Achilles injury, but Durant is much different player and teams might end up offering him max deals. Will he cash in the free $31.5 million, get another chance at a ring and then sign a max next year, or does he leave Golden State altogether?

3. Championship Door Wide Open

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 05: Jimmy Butler #23 and Tobias Harris #33 of the Philadelphia 76ers look on against the Toronto Raptors in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Wells Fargo Center on May 5, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Raptors defeated the 76ers 101-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four | Mitchell Leff

If Durant does miss most of next year, a lot of things change for the Warriors and contention for the NBA title. The Raptors have shown they could possibly an end to the unstoppable Warriors' dynasty. Without Durant, the championship door is wide open. Will free agents favor teams like the Lakers, Bucks and 76ers, for example? It definitely creates more of a question where others will land.

2. What Does Kyrie Irving Do?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 06: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2019 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 06, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bucks defeat the Celtics 113-101. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Four | Maddie Meyer

Kyrie Irving has always been linked to Durant as a potential team-up target this free agency, with many believing the Knicks to be the top destination. However, with KD now likely sidelined for quite some time, Kyrie could change his mind and take matters into his own hands to figure out where he'll spend the foreseeable future.

1. The Knicks' Worst Nightmare

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01:  James Dolan attends a Madison Square Garden Company Special Announcement at The Beacon Theatre on December 1, 2015 in New York City.  James L. Dolan, executive chairman of Madison Square Garden Company, announced Tuesday that the Beacon Theatre will host Jerry Seinfeld's first residency for six months in 2016.  The show will be titled "Jerry Seinfeld: The Homestand" with dates set for January 7, 2016, February 18, March 2, April 14, May 5 and June 8.  (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Madison Square Garden Company Special Announcement | Rob Kim

The Knicks had a grand plan this summer: create two max slots to bring in Durant and another superstar. But now what? The team traded away its most promising player and tanked away a season only to end up with the third pick and possibly no max players. Durant's injury could lead to him opting in with Golden State for another year, which gives leaves the Knicks as an unattractive destination for a single max player such as Kyrie. When the summer is over, the Knicks could be sitting there with a mismatch of assets and nothing else.