March turns into April on Wednesday, the month that the NBA playoffs begin. The days are getting longer, and warmer, and the NBA is gearing up for what could be a killer postseason that will once again feature the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Oklahoma City Thunder fans were hoping not to see Instagram like this on March 31:
Here are Kevin Durant’s thoughts, from the same Instagram page:
Not what I envisioned coming into this season. But I’m here and ready to conquer this journey. I’ve heard it all over the last few weeks, but I’m not here to prove anything to anybody, im battling myself. When quit and negativity are staring me in my face, i will stay strong and disciplined. And I won’t do it on my own, my closest and friends and family are here to help and that’s something I will be forever grateful for. I appreciate all the well wishes from all of you guys, I appreciate it. This is just a small obstacle when I look at the big picture. THANKS TO ALL MY NBA BROTHERS THAT REACHED OUT, means a lot to me. Road to recovery. GO THUNDER, I can’t wait to play with my teammates again. LETS DO THIS
Kevin Durant underwent surgery this week to repair the Jones fracture that more or less ruined the Thunder’s season. He will be out for another four to six months after his third surgery in six months, just in time for Oklahoma City’s training camp.
Here part of the press release, from Oklahoma City’s official website:
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant underwent successful bone graft surgery today for the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.
The procedure was performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley with Thunder medical personnel present at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Kevin Durant will also become a free agent during the summer of 2016. The Thunder has the means to re-sign him to a maximum contract, but just about every NBA will likely the space to offer Durant as much as legally possible under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement rules, and Durant (as LeBron James and Dwight Howard have done in recent years) may take less money to play with another team.
There is also much concern, from those of us that like to play doctor online, that Durant could be upset with the franchise that didn’t exactly stand in his way when Durant attempted to come back too early from the initial fracture.
We shouldn’t be lobbing accusations from afar, and technology behind repairing this frightening break has come a long way since Michael Jordan missed four and a half months with the same affliction as Durant during the 1985-86 season, but it doesn’t mean fans should pass on fretting. Especially with Russell Westbrook himself coming off of three surgeries in an eight month period in 2013.
Westbrook and Durant join Serge Ibaka as three injured Thunder stars who not only likely came back too early from significant and potentially career-altering injuries, but three stars whose absence will have now knocked the Thunder out of playoff contention in three consecutive postseasons.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will also be championship contenders in 2015-16. Those of us lobbing from afar need to remember that.
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Meniscus woes for Westbrook could flare up for his entire career, and Durant’s injury may have ended some careers, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Thunder will have as good a championship chance as any heading into next fall. That’s cold comfort in spring, with a literal bad break having ruined yet another playoff run for the 2012 Western Conference champs, but Durant will entering 2015-16 having just turned 27, and Westbrook will entering the same season just before turning 27, and no NBA team can claim to have a twosome as fearsome as these two standouts.
The Thunder front office has taken some rightful heat for dealing James Harden and shying away from the luxury tax, owner-mandated moves that nobody likes to see, but this building isn’t full of dummies. Oklahoma City’s midseason moves proved that the squad is in win now mode, and even if you’re wary of Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter’s impact on winning clubs (as you well should be), this is still a formidable rotation.
Quite a bit can change in 15 months, but at current rates it’s rather hard to find another NBA team that will be as appealing to Durant as these Thunder will be during the 2016 offseason. He may very well leave, other very good options can spring up, but any parting will be because of things that go down in the winter and spring of 2016, and not 2014-15. This is another cruel setback for the Thunder and its fans, but this is hardly the beginning of a massive push to drive Kevin Durant out of Oklahoma City.
Other, more reasonable basketball-related elements would make that potential push.
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