Storyline: Kevin Durant Injury

501 rumors in this storyline

7 days ago via ESPN
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.

More Rumors in this Storyline

2 weeks ago via ESPN

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.

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.’’

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.”

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.’’

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.”

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.”

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.”

Warriors to offer Kevin Durant a max contract?

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.”
More HoopsHype Rumors
July 23, 2019 | 9:41 pm EDT Update
It is unclear what the scope of the investigation is, or whether the league, which declined to comment, is acting on information other than reports in the news media. The investigation follows one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in N.B.A. history, with many high-profile players switching teams. The N.B.A. is also exploring whether it needs to change its rules against tampering. Several players committed to signing with a team as soon as free agency negotiations officially opened at 6 p.m. on June 30 — even though teams were not allowed to begin recruiting before then. League rules prohibit players, coaches and front office executives from enticing an athlete under contract with another team to come play for their franchise.
July 23, 2019 | 9:13 pm EDT Update