Asked when he expected the 10-time All-Star to return, Marks said, “I have no idea. We’re certainly not going to rush him back. There’s going to be absolutely none of that. We have far too much invested in him, and we owe it to Kevin to get him back to 100 percent.” The Nets’ position in the standings won’t play any role in when Durant comes back, Marks said. “This is entirely going to be a Kevin Durant decision,” he said.
Marks said the Nets will not push Durant to return, but again wouldn’t rule anything out. “I have no idea,” he said of a date for a possible Durant return to the court. “We’re certainly not going to rush him back. There’s going to be absolutely none of that. We have far too much invested in him, and we owe it to Kevin to get him back to 100 percent.”
Marks, though, refused to speculate about when Durant could potentially return to the court. "He will be evaluated with the performance team and so forth," Marks said. "I think a timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we're certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It's too early." Both Nets leaders were also asked about the process of integrating Irving -- who is coming off a tumultuous season in Boston -- into the mix in Brooklyn.
With Kevin Durant’s Achilles tendon the most-watched body part in sports, the Nets aren’t ruling out their newly acquired superstar for next season. They didn’t guarantee Durant will play, but opted not to proactively put him on the shelf.
“He will be evaluated with the performance team and so forth,” said general manager Sean Marks. “A timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we’re certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It’s too early.”
“The first time we got together was [Monday], to be quite frank. Our doctors and performance team, we met with Kevin and conducted a full evaluation. They got their hands on him and explained to him: This is what the program looks like,” Marks said. “I can’t speak for Kevin. I assume there’s a level of comfort knowing Dr. O’Malley is in New York.”
Brian Lewis: #Nets GM Sean Marks hasn’t ruled @Kevin Durant in or out for the upcoming season. Left it open ended.
Tim Bontemps: Sean Marks says the team won’t be making any timelines available for Kevin Durant’s return. Said Durant will be evaluated by the team’s performance staff.
Ramona Shelburne: The Knicks and owner Jim Dolan were not prepared to offer Kevin Durant a full max contract due to concerns over his recovery from the Achilles injury, league sources tell me and @Adrian Wojnarowski. Knicks officials are in Los Angeles tonight, meeting with free agents such as Julius Randle.
A leading Achilles expert, Dr. Anish Kadakia, of Northwestern University, has reviewed studies showing 85% of NBA players who suffer Achilles tendon ruptures don’t last more than two seasons after their return. According to Kadakia, 68% return and 32% never play again. Further, it takes until the second season back for the player to return to his normal ability, taking into consideration “aged matched controls,” he said. “Very few players play past two seasons,’’ Kadakia told The Post. “Two seasons and that’s it. But after two years and you’re still playing, studies show you’ll be as good as you’d be as if you didn’t rupture — factoring in decline with age. You probably haven’t lost anything but time. But in three years, it’s not the same Durant from three weeks ago.”
In explaining why Durant won’t be the same sniper in 2020-21, Kadakia said it’s jumping and speed. The surgically repaired leg regains just 95 percent of the power of the healthy leg. “When you shoot, you jump,” he said. “You’re jump is off because you don’t have as much power in one leg than the other. You play your whole career based on how much height and quick reaction you get when you want to shoot. Some can’t do that anymore, no longer able to push off like you were before. “And speed is heavily affected, making the quick cut. You lose a little of that power, when you want to push off as hard as you want. An elite athlete losing 5 percent power makes big difference.’’
The Knicks’ belief is if anyone in the league can come back from an Achilles tear, it is Durant. However, it’s not a no-brainer. “I wouldn’t do it,’’ one NBA talent evaluator said. “It may look good now, appear they had it right [he was coming] until the injury. But it’s hard to justify all that for maybe one good year. By the fourth year, I can see people wondering when will he come off the cap.”
Questions that linger over whether the strained calf led to the Achilles injury, and if the Golden State Warriors made him aware of that possibility, remain unanswered. But the indication from several league sources is that Durant is not happy with the team, and the presumption is that it stems from whatever role Warriors officials played in his decision to suit up. Coach Steve Kerr says he was told Durant could not further injure himself by playing, which obviously proved not to be true. If Durant was told the same, it would give credence to the notion that, as one league executive claims, "He's really pissed off at the Warriors."
ClutchPoints: We all know that Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) will still be good when he comes back 🙂 #kevindurant. "I understand the injury concern with kevin durant, but I have yet to talk to a team or a GM in the League who has said that they're worried about what KD is going to be when he comes back." Ric Bucher via The Herd.
“I’m told KD is doing a lot of soul searching right now,” Woj said. “You know. stepping back from the injury. processing all of this. KD can go back to Golden State on a five year, $200 million plus deal that gives him absolute assurance that coming off his Achilles injury, that maybe gives him something else to think about, staying in Golden State, but Brooklyn and the Knicks are very much in the fight to get Kevin Durant.”
ESPN’s Jay Williams, a Durant friend and a partner with Durant’s manager Rich Kleiman on “The Boardroom’’ told The Post it’s too early for the Warriors superstar to figure out what the injury means for his free-agent future. Williams has spoken with Durant since the devastating injury. “I think Kevin right now is still trying to deal with post-surgery,’’ Williams said Tuesday at a Madison Avenue Draft event. “That’s his first and foremost thing. You do what you do to your Achilles on that stage, it takes a minute to recalibrate. You can’t just go back to business. But Kevin has to make the best decision for Kevin. I’ve told him that. Rich Kleiman has told him that.”
In the past, Williams was outspoken in wondering if the Knicks were a good fit for Zion Williamson because of owner James Dolan. But Williams, a Jersey product, declined to weigh in on Durant’s fit as a Knick. “Kevin coming back (in Game 5) shows he’s kind of like the people’s champ,’’ Williams said. “He always wants to win no matter what. He’ll sacrifice his body. I think it’s now time for Kevin to do what’s in the best interest of Kevin Durant.’’
On average, a post-Achilles player misses 10 games a year after he returns to action. And a high percentage of post-Achilles players suffer a significant soft-tissue injury in their first year back, as Cousins did. That could be anything from a hamstring strain to a sports hernia to a quad or calf strain. "He's not going to be an 82-game-a-year guy," said a doctor working for another NBA team. "I always say that they can be the same player in smaller doses. So, fewer minutes, fewer games. You will see flashes. The sustained greatness is really, really tough."
Second, did this mark the end of the Warriors’ dynasty? Not only do the Warriors have questions about Thompson. Kevin Durant is recovering from a surgically repaired right Achilles tendon. The Warriors otherwise have limited purchasing power and a No. 28 pick to bolster their team. Nonetheless, Thompson said that “Klay and Kevin will both be back to wreak havoc among the league.” Thompson also added “the Warriors are far from done.” As for Durant’s free agency? “I always have faith he’ll stay. This is the second-best organization you can play for. Of course, you know what the best one is,” said Thompson who played for the Showtime Lakers and remains a radio analyst for the team’s flagship station. “Why leave a great situation like Golden State? These guys are still going to be championship contenders for years to come.”
“Even though Golden State had some tough injuries the last game and this game, they showed how much heart they have,” Raptors center Marc Gasol said. “What it means to be a championship team. They didn’t make any excuses. They kept playing.” Afterward, Warrior Stephen Curry sat at his locker appearing to be more pained about the team’s injuries than its three-peat hopes and days at Oracle Arena coming to an end. Most of his concern centered on the health of his fellow All-Stars Durant and Thompson. “It’s not good. Klay and KD are two dudes who are supposed to be walking into the best summer of their lives,” Curry told The Undefeated. “It was taken away from them just like that. It’s tough. It is tough. Two really good dudes.”
Almost half of 44 NBA players who ruptured Achilles tendons over the past three decades were unable to return or play more than 10 games upon returning to the league, according to a study presented this year to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Those players who did return were “unable do so so at their pre-injury level, as evidence by the observed decline in PER,’’ according to the study set to be published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. But researchers said Durant’s exceptional ability bodes well for his recovery. “It’s hard to be definitive because everybody’s so unique,’’ said Brett Owens, an orthopedic surgeon and lead author of the study presented this year to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. “But what we have seen in other sports is the skill level of the player really tends to bode well for their ability to return.’’
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr: "What matters is Kevin Durant is going to miss next season with an Achilles tear. What matters is Klay suffered a knee injury. We'll know more later. But it's just brutal, just brutal what these guys have had to deal with."
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on Kevin Durant: "It's still raw, obviously. It's only been 48 hours, 72 hours." Said the team has been reaching out to Durant, and "fortunately everything went well. ... Everyone in our organization is thinking about Kevin as we go."
The unpleasant memories struck DeMarcus Cousins as soon as Kevin Durant fell to the ground. It lingered when Durant hobbled off the court. And then it reemerged later when Cousins entered the locker room. “I saw K and saw the emotion on his face, I know the feeling,” Cousins said. “I was the same exact way. It’s unfortunate. It’s a very unfortunate situation.”
Did Cousins outline his journey to Durant? “It’s nowhere close for that. We spoke, but you give him his space,” Cousins said. “You give him his space and let him go through his ups and downs and emotions. I’ll reach out when it’s the right time. Or he’ll reach out when he feels it’s the right time.”
Should Durant talks with Cousins about his rehab, what will he tell him? “It’s a tough process, just straight up,” Cousins said. “Nobody really understands that type of injury unless you go through it yourself. It’s tough. It’s tough.”
Durant, Leonard and Davis are the three best players available and are the only three stars the Clippers are actively pursuing. The Clippers are firmly in contention for Leonard and/or Durant, but Durant’s torn Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night — as well as Leonard’s Finals run with the Raptors and Davis’ recently revised trade list — has somewhat clouded the offseason forecast. That is compounded by the fact that missing out on the stars they want will not force the Clippers into a reactionary decision — be it a signing or trade — this offseason, league sources told The Athletic.
Kevin Durant: What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY. My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way. Like I said Monday, I'm hurting deeply, but I'm OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat. Its just the way things go in this game and I'm proud that I gave it all I physically could, and I'm proud my brothers got the W. It's going to be a journey but I'm built for this. I’m a hooper. I know my brothers can get this Game 6, and I will be cheering with dub nation while they do it.
But Kerr did make one thing clear: The Warriors, he said, were of the belief the only risk being taken was related to the calf itself – not the Achilles. “When we gathered all the information, our feeling was the worst thing that could happen would be a re-injure of the calf,” Kerr said. “That was the advice and the information that we had. At that point, once Kevin was cleared to play, he was comfortable with that, we were comfortable with that. So the Achilles came as a complete shock. I don’t know what else to add to that, other than had we known that this was a possibility, that this was even in the realm of possibility, there’s no way we ever would have allowed Kevin to come back.
The emerging narrative Kevin Durant had his ruptured right Achilles tendon repaired by a New York surgeon in spite of the Warriors’ medical staff is bogus, according to one local doctor who watched the tragic injury unfold from afar. “I knew he was coming [to New York],” said New Jersey foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon Andrew Brief, who has known Dr. Martin O’Malley for over a decade. O’Malley performed what Durant called on Instagram a “successful” surgery to repair the tear Wednesday. “I mean, O’Malley operated on him before [2015 foot surgery],” Brief said. “He’s a repeat customer. That was the way it was going to go the moment it happened.”
Brief absolved the Warriors’ medical staff of blame, and pointed to Durant’s flying around in warmups without issue, adding he likely would have made the same call. Durant had 11 points in 12 minutes before being knocked out of the game. “This was a matter of bad luck more than bad judgement,” Brief said.
Bobby Marks: I have seen Dr. Martin O’Malley take a player in Brook Lopez that we all thought was done in 2013 to one that averaged 75 games over 5 seasons. Kevin Durant is in good hands with Dr. O’Malley and his team.
In a chat with The Undefeated, Gay said he reached out to Durant and touched on what the Warriors All-Star has ahead of him in his rehab process. “He hit me back and was appreciative,” Gay told The Undefeated over the phone from Milan. “We will have a conversation soon.” “The biggest thing is finding your rhythm and knowing your body,” said Gay, who will be a free agent again this summer. “As long as you can continue to heal and get your rhythm back, the only thing that will be new is figuring out your body.”
Gay credited the Spurs for slowly bringing him back from his injury. “After surgery, I was out of a cast in three weeks. I was able to play six months after surgery. But the Spurs scaled me back.”
Mark Medina: Warriors release the latest on Kevin Durant. They confirmed Durant's MRI confirmed that he has a ruptured Achilles and that he had surgery on Wednesday at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Warriors said Durant "is recovering well," but do not have an official timeline
J.J. Barea cringed when watching Game 5 of the NBA finals and seeing superstar Kevin Durant hopping on his left foot, reaching for his right Achilles and then plopping onto his backside, clearly in pain. Barea suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Jan. 11. Tuesday marked the five-month mark in his rehabilitation.
One thing that Barea said Durant can without question expect is a long, arduous and at times boring grind that will not end for Durant until sometime in 2020. “I’m five months into it,” the 34-year-old guard said. “I’m basically coming in everyday from 9 to 12 in the morning and I do weights, then do court work and then go back to weights. But I’m basically doing it all on the court already. I’m doing pick-and-rolls, floaters, 3-point shots, a little bit of conditioning. I feel great.”
“Don’t be scared.” NBA veteran Rudy Gay sent Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant that message and other encouraging words via Instagram the day after Durant injured his right Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday. “He hit me back and was appreciative,” Gay told The Undefeated over the phone from Milan. “We will have a conversation soon.”
Gay watched on television from Milan in the early hours of the morning when Durant suffered the injury. Gay said he knew immediately that Durant had suffered a torn Achilles tendon. “You just know when you see it. It’s just like a Fireball shot running through your body,” Gay said.
“I was able to be back working out in six months. Was I myself initially? No,” Gay said. “It took till the playoffs of last year to feel back. Returning in six months was unheard of at that time. After surgery, I was out of a cast in three weeks. I was able to play six months after surgery. But the Spurs scaled me back.”
Sam Amick: Two sources tell @TheAthletic that the Warriors did know about Kevin Durant’s surgery before his Instagram announcement. Kevin wanted to share the news himself, and the Warriors followed suit.
Multiple league sources told Yahoo Sports that they expect the Warriors to still offer Kevin Durant a max extension, regardless of the injury. The only argument against doing so is the commitment to a player who may never be the same. Then again, the alternative is alienating Durant further by offering anything less than the full max and potentially losing him with no sufficient alternative in free agency for 2020 and beyond.
Likewise, multiple league sources also told Yahoo Sports they believe the Knicks will still offer an injured Durant a max deal when free agency opens June 30. “What you don't know is what promises have been made,” one source told Yahoo Sports. “Have the Knicks and Clippers already made such promises? If not, are they willing to get two and a half to three years out of a guy on a four-year contract? Achilles tears take a year out of you and put your other Achilles at a much greater risk.”
Kevin Durant: What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr: "We don't have any news on Kevin (Durant). I guess there's some speculation out there on what's going on. But we have no news. As soon as we have updates, we'll let you know."
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr said KD was cleared by multiple parties, including an outside consultant. They were told reinjury of calf was only concern, Achilles tear wasn't: "Would we go back and do it over again? Damn right."
Logan Murdock: Steve Kerr: “If we knew this was in the realm of possibility, we would’ve never allowed Kevin to come back.” Kerr said Kevin consulted with Warriors medical staff as well as his own outside opinion and business partner Rich Kleinman before getting cleared.
The Warriors returned to the Bay Area Tuesday afternoon, but Durant flew to New York, where he underwent an MRI examination. According to the NBA source, Durant’s injury initially was diagnosed as a torn Achilles, but results of the MRI were expected to reveal whether it is a full tear or a partial tear. The Warriors were not expected to announce the results until Wednesday after a review by their medical team Tuesday night.
Even though he was cleared for Game 5, Durant was not anywhere close to 100 percent, sources said. The individual workout sessions and the light practice session on Sunday could not simulate the rigors of an ultra-competitive championship game.
According to a 2013 research paper published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, seven of the 18 NBA players (38.9%) who sustained major Achilles injuries between 1988 and 2011 did not come back to the league. Those who did return missed an average of 55.9 games the rest of their career, with only eight of the 11 playing a second season.
“That was bullshit,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said as he sat at his locker. “It was crazy. Did you hear it? Yeah, that’s ridiculous. That’s frickin’ ridiculous. I can’t even put into words how mad I was about that. When I see (rapper) Tory Lanez’s dumbass cheering about his injury … That’s unbelievable. Now I do respect the Raptors for telling them to shut up though. That’s not cool.”
Kendrick Perkins: I know 1 thing @okcthunder wouldn’t have let him play and wouldn’t have cared what KD wanted to do!
"I hereby apologize on behalf of Canada -- prayers for recovery." A fan sent flowers to the Warriors apologizing for Canada's Kevin Durant cheers. (photo via Warriors Offices)
Team doctors had cleared Durant to return to play. But he lasted only 12 minutes in Game 5 before suffering another injury, leading to speculation that perhaps Golden State officials allowed their leading scorer to return too fast when the team was trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Sports medical experts said Tuesday, however, that no one could have predicted what happened.
“This is no perfect science,” said Dr. Travis G. Maak, Utah Jazz team physician and an associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Utah. “It is called the art of medicine.” Maak, who has been part of many discussions about when a player could return to the court, said “The optics of this are terrible” but added that he has never seen a physician compromise a player’s health.
A Warriors official, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to discuss medical issues, said Tuesday, “No team is ever going to allow a player to get on the court without having multiple doctors clear him. Team doctors, specialists, a players’ personal doctor, etc. It is a collaborative effort with many involved.” He added that if Warriors’ officials knew there any chance of another injury, they would never have allowed him to play. “It’s a basketball game. It’s not that important,” he said.
“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.”
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 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."
June 14, 2021 | 9:43 am EDT Update
“They’re really loaded on him,” Rivers said. “We showed him on film, the flow pass the bounce pass are the two areas where we’re going to need him to be great.” Harris’ scoring is still his calling card and the area that you look at first to cite his playoff improvement: Through eight games, he’s averaging 23.6 points per game on 60 percent true shooting this postseason compared to 15.8 points per game on 46 percent true shooting in last season’s sweep against Boston in the bubble. But especially on those backup units, teams might force Harris to be a distributor. In Game 3, he looked up to the challenge.
Rivers joked on Sunday about how he doesn’t like “football players” in basketball, emphasizing that you can’t rest on defense in basketball. For Korkmaz, who gets on the floor because of his shooting, the defensive side is where he is forced to work harder. “Furk is doing all the little things that are required out of him,” Rivers said. “We’re not asking him to be Ben. But we’re asking him to be a better version of himself defensively. And I think he’s doing that.”
But with the Nuggets’ season on the line, and their two best players — Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray — out (Jokic was ejected at the 3:52 mark of the third quarter due to a flagrant foul 2), Denver scored 43 points over roughly the final 16 minutes. The Suns suffered a bit of a defensive letdown. “We know when we’re not playing the type of defense that we need to be playing,” Devin Booker said after the game. “So we communicate that amongst each other, and we tell each other ‘It’s time to lock in.’ And that’s what we do. But we saw a different style of offense once Jokic went out. Them having JaVale (McGee) picking and rolling to the rim.
Both of them get it, that life is bigger despite being uber-competitive. Paul is known for his relentlessness on the court that borders on maniacal. But even when he was going through his shoulder issues, he kept making it clear people are going through worse and he’d be fine. “To be on this journey with him and to see it paying off is nice,” Paul said. “We’re a lot alike. We stay locked in. I don’t feel good until the buzzer sounds. Mont’s the same way. When the series is over, and the game is over, it’s nice to share those moments.”
Davis, a member of the Celtics’ 2008 championship-winning squad, had some thoughts on the injury. In an Instagram reply, Davis seemed to imply that it was a result of basketball karma after Irving stomped on Boston’s center court logo earlier in the playoffs. “Karma is real. Energy is real no matter what you guys say,” Davis said in another IG comment. “That logo means something negative or positive. Ky wished that on hisself (sic). Energy is real, always have respect for other no matter if its (sic) a logo are (sic) not.”
June 14, 2021 | 8:27 am EDT Update
A gold medal is one thing missing from his resume, but he said he has yet to make up his mind. He continues to look at the logistics of playing in Tokyo. He is curious to learn which other players are planning to go and to see how strong the team will be. “I’m literally 50-50,” he said of his decision. “I probably need to decide in the next two weeks.”