TUESDAY, 10:31am: Durant had his surgery today, the Thunder announced via press release. The timetable for him to return to basketball activities remains four to six months.
FRIDAY, 2:00pm: Kevin Durant will undergo surgery on his ailing right foot and miss the rest of the season, the Thunder announced via press release. GM Sam Presti said in the team’s statement that the healing of the so-called Jones fracture in his foot is showing signs of regression. He’ll have a bone graft procedure that is standard for the 5% to 8% of Jones fracture patients who don’t demonstrate success after their first surgeries, according to the team. Durant first broke the foot before the season and had another procedure in February that was to have alleviated lingering soreness. He hasn’t played since that procedure.
The news is a devastating blow to the Thunder, though it’s not a thoroughly unexpected one after Presti last week raised the specter of Durant missing the balance of 2014/15. Oklahoma City is also without Serge Ibaka for perhaps the rest of the regular season. The playoffs are no guarantee for Oklahoma City, a Western Conference power in recent years, though the team has a three-game lead on the Suns for the final playoff spot with less than three weeks to go. The Thunder are without much recourse to offset the loss of Durant with a roster addition, as I examined last week, without the ability to apply for a disabled player exception or, at least for now, a hardship exception.
Durant played in just 27 games this season, the first time in his NBA career that he’s missed more than eight contests. Only Michael Jordan, who retired, and Bill Walton, who suffered devastating foot problems, played fewer games than Durant has the season after winning an MVP award, as ESPN points out (Twitter link).
The 26-year-old is expected to return to basketball activity in four to six months, Presti said in the statement, a timeframe that should have him ready for the start of training camp in the fall. That’s the start of a season that’s the last under the five-year extension he signed in 2010. Chatter about the top unrestricted free agent in the 2016 class has already begun and is sure to intensify with Durant staring at perhaps only one last season in a Thunder uniform. Still, Presti has insisted that trading Durant to avoid watching him walk in free agency is not an idea he’s considering.