Thunder GM Sam Presti wouldn’t declare Kevin Durant out for the season and the playoffs, but he said in a press conference today that’s essentially “the direction we’re headed right now,” according to Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The reigning MVP won’t be back unless the soreness in his foot abates, Presti added, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post tweets. Presti said that Durant, who had been ramping up for a return that was expected within the next week, has been removed from basketball activity, and the GM doesn’t sound optimistic about a return this season, observes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).
The high-scoring forward hasn’t played since February 19th after undergoing a second procedure that was designed to alleviate the lingering pain in the Jones fracture that he suffered in his right foot before the season. Various ailments have limited Durant to just 27 games so far in 2014/15.
The Thunder are also without Serge Ibaka for as many as six weeks, with the playoffs set to begin in a little more than four weeks. They’re just a game up on New Orleans and two and a half up on Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and they have little recourse for upgrading their roster to help them salvage a postseason berth, as I examined. Oklahoma City has 15 players on contracts that run through at least the end of the season, and the team is already a taxpayer, making it difficult for the Thunder to waive a contract to sign someone else.
Durant is in the next to last season of his contract, which puts pressure on the Thunder to maximize their championship window. The team already has more than $78MM in commitments for next season, which doesn’t include a new contract for soon-to-be restricted free agent Enes Kanter.