Tiger Woods: “I’ve been there. I’ve had it to my own Achilles and my own back. It’s an awful feeling. No one can help you. That’s the hard part. And whether he has a procedure going forward or not, the hardest part about it is the offseason or the rehab. “I mean, if he popped it then that’s six to nine months of rehabbing. That’s what people don’t see, all those long hours that really do suck. And why do we do it? Because we’re competitors.”
“It was sad,” Tiger Woods said of watching Durant’s injury. “As athletes, we’ve all been there — when you know something just went, and you can’t move or do much of anything. And you could see it on (Durant’s) face, how solemn his face went. He knows it when things pop. You just know.”
It was a confusing, perplexing and bizarre turn of events. Medical and performance sources around the league that spoke with NBCSports.com were just as befuddled as those sitting in Scotiabank Arena. “This,” one longtime NBA trainer said, “is just unheard of.”
To be clear, the Warriors have the most information in this situation, both medically and personally. They have access to Durant’s medicals over the last three years. In consultation with Durant after the morning shootaround, the team decided to clear him ahead of Monday’s Game 5, the first time he’d suit up to play since May 8 when he suffered what the team called a mild calf strain. The team repeatedly denied it was an Achilles injury despite public speculation. But Durant still hurt his Achilles on Monday night. Every time a player ties up his shoelaces and plays in an NBA game, he is exposing himself to injury. Perhaps this was a fluke play that could not have been prevented, no matter the precautions.
But this statistic was repeated by multiple league sources outside the Warriors organization to NBCSports.com: 12 of 14. As in, Durant’s workload, playing 12 of the first 14 minutes of a Finals game after not playing a game in over a month due to a soft tissue injury. Durant’s minutes stunned many across the league who expected Durant to play “short bursts,” as coach Steve Kerr said just before the game.
Rather than sit Durant for the start of the second quarter and buy some extra time, Durant started the frame alongside three bench players and Klay Thompson. Draymond Green and Stephen Curry sat after playing the entire first quarter. And then, Durant’s leg buckled on a non-contact play. “Just seems unacceptable,” said one longtime director of performance. “Doesn’t make any sense.” Said another rival training staff member: “They may have said, once the leg is warm, ride it. But I can’t imagine (Durant) did enough work to determine 12 minutes out of 14 was appropriate.”
Although a torn Achilles could cost Durant the entire 2019-20 season, Marks said he spoke with three teams, and all of them remain willing to pursue KD in free agency: "I said ... If you had cap space, would you go out and sign Kevin Durant knowing that he will likely be out maybe the whole year? And the resounding answer was 'yes.' Each of the teams also said that they wouldn't even put any injury language in there for maybe years three and four to protect. So, yes, there will be a marketplace for Kevin Durant this summer, either with a team for four years, $141 million dollars or even back in Golden State here."
Family, teammates and confidants routinely checked on Durant during his quest to rejoin his guys on the court. Each time, Durant explained that he was working to speed up the process but was still experiencing discomfort pushing off his right foot, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Durant opened the game jumping the ball up on a tender calf. And instead of primarily resorting to a catch-and-shoot game, he brought the ball up full court with some pressure and occasionally tried to create offense in isolation. Those are all circumstances that require a player to plant and explode firmly. “I don't believe there's anybody to blame, but I understand in this world and if you have to, you can blame me,” Myers said. “I run our basketball operations department.” There was a little resentment with how the Warriors handled the updates on Durant’s condition throughout his rehab process, sources said.
Wanda Durant: For ALL of you who question my son as a Man, question his Heart, question his Integrity and question his LOVE for the game of basketball, you DON’T know him. He has a heart of a true Warrior! This too shall pass. God Bless you ALL.
Marc J. Spears: Kevin Durant was doing two-a-day workouts in his efforts to return to the Warriors, a source said before Game 5.
Ramona Shelburne: The Warriors believe Kevin Durant’s MRI on Tuesday will confirm a torn right Achilles’ tendon, league sources tell me and @Adrian Wojnarowski
Mark Medina: Warriors scheduled to fly out of Toronto on Tuesday at noon ET. Not clear yet if Kevin Durant will have his MRI before team flies or after team lands in Oakland.
Anthony Slater: Bob Myers confirms its an Achilles injury for Kevin Durant. From one Warriors player in the locker room: “The hope is it’s not a full rupture.”
And ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was quick to point out just how severe the ramifications will be. “I was in the Warriors’ locker room and the doctors’ faces were ashen when Kevin came back there, it was almost like a mini-funeral back there,” Windhorst said. “He limped out midway through the third quarter; you don’t leave a game of this magnitude, this is a guy that’s been cheering his team along the whole time. He just wanted to get out of there. You could feel it was really bad.
“His agent Rich Kleiman was as white as a ghost. “The NBA just changed, the NBA just changed. Next year there’s teams crawling all over themselves to get Durant; there’s going to be this pecking order, there’s teams making trades to clear salary cap space, the thought was that he was going to be available on the market. “In addition to this series, the entire NBA just changed tonight.”
Ramona Shelburne: Warriors owner Joe Lacob “I have experienced a lot since owning this team. Some lows and many highs. Tonight was incredible pride in the resiliency of our team. And respect for KD coming back with our backs against the wall. But I am also so unbelievably sad about the KD injury.”
"Prayers up to KD, he gave us what he could. ... I got a lot of emotions right now." — Steph Curry to @heydb postgame.
Ben Golliver: Warriors' Stephen Curry on cheering fans after Kevin Durant's injury: "Very confused around that reaction. It's not my experience with people of this city. I commend Danny Green and Kyle Lowry for signaling to the crowd. I hope that ugliness doesn't show itself again."
Henry Abbott: Warriors GM Bob Myers says he doesn't think there's anyone to blame, but if you have to, "you can blame me, I run the basketball operations department." Says Kevin Durant is one of the "most misunderstood people," and "I'm lucky to know him."
Josh Lewenberg: VanVleet on Durant: "Just feel for the guy, man. I know we're opponents and we're competing as hard as we possibly can, but you never want to see that. You never want to see anybody get injured... You just hate to see that. We feel for him. It's very unfortunate. It sucks."
Karl-Anthony Towns: Damn man. Prayers up for @Kevin Durant. Been my favorite player since I was young, and it’s hard to see someone you grew up admiring go down. Nothing but love for him. Hoping for a speedy recovery. 🙏🏽
Jason Anderson: BREAKING: Warriors president Bob Myers tearfully announced that Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury tonight, the extent of which is not yet known. "I don't believe there's anybody to blame, but ... if you have to, you can blame me." Just devastating news. Get well @Kevin Durant.
O — Canada came for a coronation and left, inexplicably, with a headache. The Golden State Warriors staved off elimination by beating the Toronto Raptors, 106-105, on Monday, withstanding the loss of Kevin Durant and a brilliant fourth-quarter push from Kawhi Leonard to claim Game 5 and make it a 3-2 series. The defending champs left the court in joyous disbelief after pulling off a late-game caper for the ages. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to make 12 three-pointers, including three in the final three minutes. But a night that ended with stunned silence in Scotiabank Arena ran the full gamut of emotions. “An incredible win and a horrible loss at the same time,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said.
Anthony Slater: Kevin Durant just finished up a 15ish minute pregame workout, looked pretty good. Closed it with this spin 3 and then a dunk — the two times he probably tested calf most. pic.twitter.com/QNUueqTI2V
Warriors coach Steve Kerr listed Kevin Durant as “a game-time decision” but sounded optimistic he will be a go for his long-anticipated return in do-or-die Game 5 vs. the Raptors on Monday night. Durant participated in Monday’s morning shootaround at Scotiabank Arena and Kerr said he “looked good.’’ Durant practiced on Sunday for the first time since he went down with a partially torn calf more than a month ago.
“He worked at shootaround, went back to get treatment,’’ Kerr said before a mob of cameras and reporters. “We’ll list him as a game-time decision, he looked good. We’ll see where it all goes. “That’s what we’re hoping for. No guarantees. It’s just how he feels and training staff feels.”
“You worry about the conditioning,’’ Kerr said. “The skill is undeniable. He can get a shot off anytime he wants. He’s been in similar situations with us where he had long layoffs. He’s Kevin Durant. If we have him out there, he’ll be a threat. We know that.” Asked about the Durant cloud hovering over the Finals, Kerr said, “It’s the way it goes. Injuries happen. But it’s been frustrating.’’
Josh Lewenberg: Hearing Durant went up to the Raptors' old practice gym on the upper level of the arena to get extra work in after shootaround today. Officially, he's a game-time decision but my sense is he'll play. What condition he'll be in after missing over a month is the question.
Tim Bontemps: Kevin Durant just walked into Warriors shootaround with Warriors trainer Rick Celebrini. He remains questionable for Game 5 tonight with a calf strain.
ESPN's Jay Williams said he was with Kevin Durant on Sunday and said he'd be "shocked" if the Golden State Warriors star does not play in Monday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals. "The one thing you know about Kevin, Kevin loves big challenges. He loves the big stage. For him to be dropped back into Game 5 of the NBA Finals is a monumental thing. I would be shocked if we didn't see KD on the basketball court tonight. I'm neither confirming nor denying. This is up to the Golden State Warriors about how they want to do this, but if KD is not on the floor tonight, I would be shocked."
But those two 2015 games are still a peek into the uniqueness of Durant’s smooth, polished skill set. The foot can be bothering him. The full burst may not be there. Concern could be creeping into his mind. But that jumper is still so pure, released at an unblockable height, that there may not be another human on the planet more equipped to drop a useful 22 points on this stage despite rust and pain. “He’s way better than a lot of people when he’s 100 percent,” Draymond Green said. “So if he’s 75 percent, he’ll still probably be better than a lot of people.”
Connor Letourneau: Practice just ended, and Kevin Durant's walking out with an ice bag on his right calf. Appears to be walking OK.
Tim Reynolds: Kevin Durant walked onto the Warriors practice floor moments after most media were told to leave. I’m not going to get into his gait analysis. He was walking fine.
Kerith Burke: Klay said the hardest part as a player is going through injuries. If KD comes back for Game 5, Klay said, “He will be very welcomed. He’s propelled us to two championships. It would be pretty storybook if he could do the same.”
Kerith Burke: More Klay on KD: “I know how badly he wants to play. He’s one of the best competitors I’ve been around.”
Marc J. Spears: Steve Kerr didn’t rule out Kevin Durant playing in Game 5.
Connor Letourneau: Kevin Durant will practice with the Warriors today, and he’ll get some extra work in with the younger players. Steve Kerr conceded that he’s feeling more optimistic about Durant returning.
At the very least, Durant’s absence that began back on May 8 is causing a mixture of confusion and angst among several of his teammates that simply can’t be helpful to their overall cause. Sources say there was a very real hope that Durant would be able to play in Game 4, to push through in much the same way that Thompson, Cousins, Iguodala and Looney have done of late. When that didn’t happen, and when they saw their season compromised more than ever without him after they’d grown hopeful of his return after seeing him on the court, the irritation grew in large part because they simply didn’t understand why he wasn’t there.
Warriors officials aren’t running from the reality that there’s frustration among some players, but they’re also quick to point out that trainer Rick Celebrini – not Durant – is making this call. And until Celebrini gives Durant the go-ahead, his long and painful stretch of absences will extend into this pivotal Warriors summer where his free agency future remains unclear.
Rob Lopez: . @WindhorstESPN : “Durant just isn’t ready. His body isn’t ready. The trainers don’t believe it, he doesn’t believe it...” He says there’s frustration around the Warriors about the situation
On Friday's NBA Countdown pregame show ahead of Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Rose revealed some information about Kevin Durant's recent workout, which apparently has altered Rose's opinion as to the likelihood of Durant's return to the Warriors in the best-of-seven series against the Raptors. "I'm really familiar with the setup, workout that KD had yesterday with the team," Rose said, "and I'm going to tell you guys, it didn't go well on any level. It did not go well on any level. I'm just going to keep it at that."
I asked Steve Kerr after Friday’s loss: Has the team maybe gotten too caught up in waiting for Durant? “No, I don’t think so,” Kerr said after his news conference. “Our guys internally, we see him every day. We’re aware of his progress and we’re aware of the limitations of where he is. So there’s certainly a hope — there’s been a hope that he could do it, that he could come back. But it is what it is. The guys are just playing. “I don’t think there’s a sense of disappointment or anything. This is just the way it goes.”
Nick Friedell: Draymond on KD potentially playing in Game 5: “Obviously we hope to have him. We’ll see what happens.” Says that it all depends on how Durant’s body is feeling. Says there’s been hope all series that KD would return, they just don’t know how he’ll continue to respond to treatment
July 31, 2021 | 3:05 am EDT Update
According to a former Western Conference executive, the Wizards highly value Caldwell-Pope but may be open to either Kuzma, Harrell or both rerouted to another team. Would that team be Sacramento?
Schroder will be competing with several other free agents at the same position, including Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball, Mike Conley, Spencer Dinwiddie and Paul (if he opts out of his final year). “He may get squeezed,” a Western Conference executive told Bleacher Report.
Here’s what Wojnarowski reported on ESPN’s morning show ‘Get Up’: “Philadelphia is still asking for a lot. Teams are not willing to be strip-mined to trade for Ben Simmons. They’re going to continue to try and find a way, to see if there’s a deal here as free agency starts. You kind of get another cycle of deal-making here. But he’s four years left on his deal, they’re not going to just give him away in Philly. Whatever they get back for him, they’ve got to believe it continues to make them a championship contender. But they’d like to get a deal done before training camp.”
Eric Pincus: I had heard Caruso was a target of the Pacers, Hawks and Cavs – but the Pacers, I think, keep TJ (TBD) – and the Hawks just got Wright and the Cavs Rubio – so maybe the market for AC has shifted. If I’m Lakers, I don’t think twice about keeping him
Per NBA sources, the Lakers went into the offseason with a clear Plan A: unrealistic hopes of landing a Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. Plan B was Chris Paul (but then the Phoenix Suns advanced to the NBA Finals) and Westbrook. Hield was always Plan C.
That pushed Hield to the forefront. But even as the possibility of a deal built around Kyle Kuzma and Harrell began to form, the Lakers kept the door open to a Westbrook deal. Westbrook asserted his voice into the conversation, and per an NBA source, the Wizards pivoted. Just like that, the pieces the Kings liked for Hield were no longer available.
De’Aaron Fox: He’s not apart of my team. He doesn’t work for me. He’s a parent and a fan talking just like y’all. So take whatever they say as fans having conversations like y’all do everyday.
Italy made it to the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games after storming back against Nigeria to secure the win, 80-71, at Saitama Super Arena on Saturday. Nicolo Melli and Achille Polonara put the finishing touches on a 14-0 sprint generating a 70-64 lead. The European side held on to secure the victory punching in the ticket for the next round. The team led by Meo Sacchetti will rank first in Group B if Germany beats Australia by a margin of 17 points or less later in Tokyo. It will be in second place in any other case. A helpful reminder, the three group winners and the best-placed second will be seeded for Sunday’s draw.