Basketball superstar Kevin Durant’s injury may have reshaped the outlook of the NBA’s upcoming free agency period, but it also sent ripples through Wall Street.
Shares of MSG Networks tumbled nearly 5% on Tuesday after Durant reportedly tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors on Monday evening. Durant was expected to opt out of his current contract with Golden State at the end of the season, making the 10-time All-Star the marquee free agent of 2019.
Several teams, including the New York Knicks, were expected to vie for Durant’s services in free agency. Signing Durant, a two-time NBA champion and one of the best players in the league, could have helped the Knicks become a playoff contender. The Knicks have missed the NBA playoffs for six straight years.
“In our view, the movement in the stock rhetorically illustrates how many investors were/are long MSGN on the thesis that Kevin Durant would sign with the NY Knicks sometime this summer, which was never a guarantee,” Imperial Capital analyst David Miller said in a note Wednesday.
This could have boosted ratings for Knicks games, which were just a third of what they were compared to the last time the team made the postseason, according to Miller. Higher ratings would boost MSG Networks shares since they broadcast most Knicks games.
The stock rebounded slightly on Wednesday.
And Miller points out there is still hope for the Knicks as this free-agent class is “loaded.” Players like Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard.
“As such, advertising effects on these networks given a completely different player lineup is universally compelling, and not at all built in to the stock price,” Miller said.
The Knicks also have the third overall pick in this year’s draft, which they are likely to use on Duke University player RJ Barrett.