Thunder NBA Title Odds Shift With Kevin Durant Setback
Russell Westbrook has been spectacular since Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant went down again with more foot problems, with Westbrook playing at an MVP level (although turning the ball over a ton). Enes Kanter has been terrific since being acquired from Utah at the trade deadline. However, the chances of Oklahoma City holding off New Orleans and/or Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot just were dealt a crushing blow: Durant's season might be over.
There was some talk that Durant might return this week from his latest procedure on his foot, next week at the latest. Forget that now. Thunder GM Sam Presti held a press conference on Friday in which he announced that Durant will be "removed from all basketball activities" and he will be "out indefinitely."
Presti said that until Durant is able to return to the floor without experiencing soreness, he will remain sidelined, and acknowledged that a shutdown is the current direction that OKC is headed.
“He’s not making the progress that we had hoped and anticipated him making,” Presti said. “He still has some soreness in his foot, and the protocol that’s in place calls for him to be able to compete on the floor without that at this stage. ... If that takes the rest of the regular season, if that takes the rest of the playoffs, that’s what it takes."
Durant underwent surgery Feb. 23 to attempt to alleviate soreness and discomfort in his right foot that was being caused by a screw inserted in October during a procedure to repair a Jones fracture. After the second procedure, Durant was re-evaluated after a week, then re-evaluated again after another week, at which point Brooks updated the player's timetable to a "week or two."
Durant had intensified his on-court workouts in the past couple of weeks, returning Saturday to participate in parts of practice, including some 3-on-3. Durant was held out of practice Thursday as he was "experiencing a little bit of soreness," Brooks said.
The reigning league MVP, Durant is averaging 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 27 games this season. He missed the season’s first 17 games while recovering from the initial surgery to repair the fractured bone in his right foot. He then missed six games in late December due to a sprained right ankle. A sprained left big toe cost him another four games in late January and early February. He’s now missed the past 14 games.
You don't mess around with foot injuries for an NBA player as those can end a career. Just ask Yao Ming or Bill Walton, to name two.
Despite being plagued by injuries this season, the Thunder are 38-30 and hold a one-game lead for the eighth spot in the Western Conference entering Friday. The team also learned this week that big man Serge Ibaka would miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.
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