Kevin Durant

Warriors Optimistic Durant Can Return Before Playoffs

There is “cautious optimism” within the Warriors organization that Kevin Durant will be able to get back on the court before the end of the regular season, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes. There are no guarantees yet, but the club is encouraged by the progress Durant has made in his recovery, per the ESPN duo.

It has been three weeks since the Warriors announced Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise. At the time, Golden State suggested that the star forward would be re-evaluated in four weeks with an update coming at that time, so that’s still a week away. Still, sources tell Stein and Haynes that Durant is about halfway through his rehabilitation, and it will now be important to see how he responds to increased intensity of that rehab work.

The Warriors lost five of seven games after losing Durant, but have rebounded since then, winning their last five. Although Golden State may not need Durant to lock up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, it would still be a great sign for his chances of making a major impact in the playoffs if he can get back on the court for at least a couple regular season contests in April.

Steve Kerr Disputes Report Of Warriors’ Anger Toward OKC

A report from Chris Haynes of ESPN.com late on Sunday night suggested that members of the Warriors’ organization were “furious” and “bewildered” by the Thunder’s treatment of Kevin Durant leading up to Durant’s Oklahoma City return last month. According to Haynes, the Warriors felt that the Thunder’s decision not to more publicly address Durant’s return and thank him for his time in OKC – either through the media or via the in-game operations staff – played a part in creating an “unsettling, hostile atmosphere” during the Warriors’ visit to OKC in February.

Asked today about that ESPN report, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr disputed the idea that the franchise was upset or displeased by Thunder management or ownership for their handling of the Durant situation, as Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News details.

“I don’t agree,” Kerr said.Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know Clay Bennett. It’s a class organization all the way, so I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name name that’s put on it. I assume it’s just sources. Is it ‘sources’? I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. We have great respect for them. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first-class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”

The Warriors will make their second trip to Oklahoma City tonight to play the Thunder, and Durant won’t be active this time around, as he continues to rehab his troublesome knee. Still, even with Durant and Russell Westbrook not going head-to-head on the court, there will certainly be no love lost between the two teams — Chesapeake Arena figures to be an especially hostile environment for the Warriors in the wake of Haynes’ latest report.

Steve Kerr Offers Health Update On Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is making progress in his effort to return from a knee injury, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com.

Speaking to reporters before tonight’s game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Durant has progressed from shooting in a wheelchair to standstill shooting and is now able to handle jump shots.

Durant was diagnosed with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise after injuring his left knee in a February 28th game. He was first diagnosed with a hyperextended knee before an MRI showed the real extent of the damage. Doctors said they planned to re-evaluate him after four weeks, which would be 10 days from now.

Golden State has gone 4-4 without Durant and leads San Antonio by just a game and a half coming into tonight’s action.

Community Shootaround: Will Cavs And Warriors Hang Onto No. 1 Seeds?

Following tonight’s loss to the Pistons, the Cavs are 42-21- having played to a .500 record over their last 10 games. The return of J.R. Smith bolsters the team’s depth, but Tyronn Lue’s squad continues to miss Kevin Love‘s presence in their rotation. The Celtics aren’t far behind Cleveland’s trail, sitting two games behind the Cavs for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s been a similar story for Golden State, whose fourth quarter struggles have been well-publicized. The Warriors hardly have a comfortable hold of the Western Conference’s #1 seed, as San Antonio is riding a torrid 9-1 streak. The Warriors have long clinched a playoff spot, but Steve Kerr said he isn’t obsessed with the top seed.

“We still have the No. 1 seed, but I won’t run guys ragged to get it,” Kerr told Connor Letourneau of SF Gate. “We have to manage this stretch right here and get through this week.”

Fox Sports editor Brett Pollakoff has recently predicted the Spurs to overtake Golden State for the top seed, citing the Warriors’ difficult schedule through the rest of the regular season.

“The Warriors lead the Spurs by 2.5 games in the standings but are playing without Kevin Durant for at least a little while longer and have an absolutely brutal schedule this week, which ends with a game in San Antonio on Saturday,” Pollakoff writes. “The Spurs might be able to make up some ground during that stretch and are capable of playing consistently enough to overtake Golden State for the West’s No. 1 seed.”

Five Thirty Eight currently gives the Warriors a 79% chance of hanging onto the #1 seed, and Cleveland a 40% chance. We want to hear your opinion: Do you think each team will hold onto the #1 seed? If not, what will get in their way? Are the injuries to Kevin Durant and Kevin Love ultimately too much to overcome?

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Pacific Notes: Durant, Nwaba, Ingram, Kings

Although the Warriors have a “high level” of optimism that Kevin Durant will be able to get back on the court before the end of the regular season, Durant said that he isn’t even thinking about or targeting a specific return date yet.

“I know that’s what everybody wants to know, and is wondering,” said the Warriors forward, per Sam Amick of USA Today. “But whenever my body tells me I’ll be ready to play then I’ll be ready to play. I’m not really thinking in that frame of mind.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific division:

  • The Lakers haven’t made a final decision yet, but with David Nwaba‘s 10-day contract set to expire tonight, head coach Luke Walton says he has been impressed by the young swingman, who has done everything he can to earn a second deal (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times). If the club doesn’t re-sign Nwaba, it will have an opening on its 15-man roster.
  • The LakersDeMarcus Cousins talks with Sacramento last month reportedly fell apart when L.A. refused to include Brandon Ingram. With that in mind, Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider link) examine whether Ingram, whose production this season has been modest, is a future Lakers star or a potential trade candidate. As Pelton observes, there are plenty of examples of teams that waited too long to trade former lottery picks, so if the Lakers aren’t entirely sold on Ingram’s star potential, it could make sense to consider trading him this summer.
  • The new-look Kings are still a work in progress, particularly on offense, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. As Jones outlines, the offense was centered around DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay in the first half, but with neither player on the floor for the Kings anymore, the retooled squad sometimes looks like “five guys on the court just trying not to step on each other’s toes.”

Pacific Notes: Temple, Labissiere, Crawford

For the first time since his January injury, Kings veteran Garrett Temple went full speed in practice. The 30-year-old has been cautious with the injury, Jonathan Santiago of Kings.com writes, but finally found himself comfortable enough to return to the court.

I’ve been out longer than I guess expected just because I know that I wanted to make sure that I got it all the way right,” Temple said this week before suiting up for the Kings in Sunday’s contest. “The setback I had last time was during the first day of practice. So after I got through my first day of practice yesterday without any other effects – a nice long two-hour practice – it helped my confidence.”

In 49 contests for the Kings this season, Temple had posted 7.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Thrust into a larger role ever since the Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento big man Skal Labissiere has run with the opportunity. Shahbaz Khan of Kings.com spoke with the rookie about his experience during the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
  • Though he’ll turn 37 years old this week, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford would like to play three or four more seasons, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Crawford is averaging 12.3 points per game in his 17th season.
  • The Warriors will need to re-adapt to life without Kevin Durant but Zaza Pachulia has made an effort to come to terms with it, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. “If I did something on purpose or even if I had flopped, that probably would have made me feel worse,” Pachulia said, “But it wasn’t even a flop. I got pulled. I fell. Nobody had control over it.
  • The lawyer of Matt Barnes requested a court date that doesn’t coincide with the NBA Finals, Rebecca Rosenberg of the New York Post writes. Barnes recently signed with the reigning two-time Western Conference champion Warriors.
  • The return of Chris Paul has thrown the Clippers bench into disarray, writes Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. With Paul back in the starting five, Austin Rivers has had to slide back into the second unit. “Things like this happen,” backup center Marreese Speights said, “But we still got time to get it right before the playoffs. We’ll be all right.”

Kevin Durant To Be Re-Evaluated In Four Weeks

9:02am: Durant has suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise, the Warriors announced today (via Twitter). According to the team’s announcement, the veteran forward will be sidelined indefinitely and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. While there’s no timetable for Durant’s return, the club says he could play again before the end of the regular season.

7:56am: The Warriors are hopeful that the knee injury Kevin Durant suffered on Tuesday night will not be season-ending, according to Mike Wise of The Undefeated (Twitter link). However, as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports, Golden State is bracing for the possibility that Durant may be sidelined for the rest of the regular season, or even longer.

Durant, who was initially diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, underwent an MRI on Tuesday night to assess the extend of his injury, per Wojnarowski. Doctors are evaluating the results of that test, and the Warriors are expected to make a formal announcement on Durant’s status later on Wednesday.

As Wojnarowski details, there are some team officials and members of Durant’s camp who fear that the injury will prevent the star forward from returning to the Warriors’ lineup before the playoffs begin in April. Some sources close to Durant are worried that the injury could keep him out of action for longer than that, sources tell Wojnarowski.

With their top scorer likely to miss extended time, the Warriors have reached an agreement to sign Matt Barnes. The former King will help provide depth at both forward positions in Durant’s absence, but Golden State will have to rely on its other All-Stars like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to help shoulder more of the scoring load with Durant on the shelf.

The Warriors’ interior players will face added pressure during Durant’s absence as well, since the 28-year-old had been arguably been the team’s best rim protector this season, averaging a team-high 1.6 blocks per contest.

Durant Discusses Why He Didn’t Join The Wizards

Kevin Durant didn’t consider the Wizards when he was a free agent in part because he accomplished everything he set out to do in the D.C. Metro area, Tim Bontemps and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post relay.

“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.

“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”

Landing Durant was always a pipedream for the Wizards. Washington did not get a meeting with him in free agency while it watched six other franchises court the small forward.

Durant added that his mother was a major influence on his decision not to come back home. “No disrespect to anybody back at home, but my mom, she wanted me to see the world. She wanted me to see a different part of the country, and she didn’t want it to be a quick flight, either. She didn’t want anybody to be able to just get ahold of me,” Durant said.

Over the course of his career, the 8-time All-Star routinely made visits to his home state of Maryland during his offseasons. It was rewarding to come home and help out the community, but it came with challenges.

“With any athlete, when they’re playing in their hometown, there are advantages and disadvantages,” said Stu Vetter, Durant’s former high school coach. “The disadvantage is, everyone becomes a very good friend very quickly. Your time is in great demand. Your resources are in great demand. And everyone wants a favor.”

Durant visits his home community less frequently now than he did earlier in his career, but the area remains close to his heart. He’s a huge Redskins fan, who believes the team should re-sign Kirk Cousins (you can check out the latest on Cousins and Washington at Pro Football Rumors). Durant considered coming back home after learning about LeBron James‘ decision to return to his home state in 2014 but quickly decided that his own situation was not parallel to LBJ’s.

“I thought about what it might be like,” Durant said. “I thought about it. But it made LeBron’s situation different because he got drafted there. So it was like he was home already, so he knew what it was like. It wasn’t like it was his first time going back. For me, I never played at home. I didn’t know what it would be. I know every time I go back it’s pretty hectic, and I just wanted to focus on basketball and not have to worry about a lot of stuff that comes with being at home.”

“It’s always good going back, but I would rather play in a different city.”

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Durant, Kings

The Warriors don’t anticipate adding a big man via the buyout market, Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group passes along via Twitter. Coach Steve Kerr said he likes how the current roster is constructed and doesn’t want to end up having too many frontcourt players on the team.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kevin Durant wants to be a GM or an owner of an NBA team once his playing career is over, Slater relays in a full-length piece“ [I] Want to be a GM, want to own a team, hopefully own a team and run it,” Durant said. “So I look to see what rumors are getting out there, what deals are being presented to these teams. Try to figure that stuff out. It’s fun, especially for a guy who knows that part of the business.” Durant added that he regularly talks front office strategy with Kerr and Warriors GM Bob Myers.
  • Garrett Temple injured his hamstring earlier in the month, but he’s progressing and he hopes to be back on the floor for the Kings in a week or two, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 tweets.
  • The Kings have a history of trading away their All-Star players, Jon Schultz of the Sacramento Bee writes. The team has had six All-Stars since moving to Sacramento in 1985 and with the exception of Vlade Divac, all of the players were sent elsewhere via trade.

Community Shootaround: Durant Returns To OKC

It’s been seven months since Kevin Durant decided to leave the only franchise he ever knew to sign with the Warriors and today the eight-time All-Star will make his much-anticipated return to Oklahoma City. Sure, for nine seasons Durant helped put the Thunder on the map, but don’t expect his reception at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to be anything less than hostile.

On one hand, Durant treated the franchise that drafted him with relatively unprecedented respect, on the other, well… sports fan logic. As Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News tweets, Durant didn’t force a trade out of Oklahoma City and he didn’t put up a stir mid-season and distract the Thunder from their 2015/16 campaign. He waited dutifully until the offseason before making a decision well within his rights as a player.

Still, though his decision is certainly defensible, it didn’t win over very many fans outside of the Bay Area. Shortly after Durant’s personal essay detailing his thought process regarding the move to Oakland was published, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN tweeted a sentiment to which skeptical fans could relate. Smith called Durant’s decision a “weak move”, lambasting the superstar for opting to sign with the team that just rallied to eliminate the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

Needless to say, when Durant takes the floor for the Warriors this evening, emotions will be at an all-time high. Earlier this morning Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweeted that the ugliest sports scene he ever witnessed first-hand was LeBron James‘ first game back in Cleveland after signing with the Heat in the summer of 2010.

How do you think Durant’s return to Oklahoma City will go? Do fans have the right to boo an ex-star that did so much for the franchise? If so, how far is too far when fans react negatively?

Weigh in below!

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