Kevin Durant

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KD's Status

I don’t hear anyone arguing that the Warriors are better without this guy now.

June 10, 2019 - 9:53 am
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And then there are the Warriors. Down 3-1 in the Finals. That is usually a pretty good time to smash the panic button, but if they’re gripping, they’re not showing it. 

Klay Thompson not only appeared to not be panicking, he appeared to be breaking out a Kawhi laugh when asked a question.

Only Klay. Only freaking Klay. If that’s what that was. Because that sounds pretty much exactly like Kawhi, expect it’s coming from Klay.

I could do that for the rest of the show, just back and forth, trying to figure out who is who. But that’s not the most important thing for the Warriors right now.

The most important thing is them figuring out a way to do Toronto, in their own house and somehow getting this thing back to Oakland. And the second most important thing is figuring out if Kevin Durant is playing tonight.

Personally, I think he’ll be out there. I think he’ll give it a go. Now to be REAL ABOUT IT, I have to say  – the Kevin Durant injury situation has been weird. Really, really weird. Normally, this is where I say weird is good. But not this weird. This type of weird, is just that. Weird. 

Remember when the Warriors swept the Blazers in the Western Conference Finals and the thinking was, that’s good because they have more than a week off and then KD will be ready for The Finals. Except he wasn’t. DeMarcus Cousins came back first.

But KD traveled to Toronto for the first two games, so maybe he could play in Game 2. But he didn’t. And then it was that he was going to return midway through the series, which could be Game 3, it wasn’t, or it could be Game 4, it wasn’t that either.

And now, with the Warriors on the brink of elimination, he might play tonight. And again, I think he will. But I definitely thought he would have played by now. Arguably best in the world. One of the best competitive guys ever, there’s no debate there. And he’s got teammates that are busted up and out there doing whatever they can to keep the dynasty alive. Again, we’re not talking about some meaningful regular season games, they’re playing for the Larry O. So, yes, the whole thing is a little weird. 

 Now…he did  yesterday, so that’s good.

But as Nick Friedell tweeted: If KD got some work in today against the rest of his teammates — it wasn’t much. He was one of the first players back in the locker room and the Warriors weren’t on the floor very long to begin with.

So that doesn’t seem so good.

And then he was seen leaving the arena without a limp, that’s good, but with ice on his calf slash Achilles so that might not be great.

That’s the thing. It’s impossible to know what is going on. Was the injury worse than the Warriors let on in the first place? Or has it gotten worse over time?

It is so weird and so bizarre that a two-time Finals MVP and one of the greatest players of all-time has not played in this series and nobody has had any idea if or when he might play. Again, this is one of the greatest players to ever put on shoes and he’s been reduced to high-fiving guys in the tunnel at halftime and after games. And yet it’s not the biggest story. And nobody really knows what to say about it.

Let me make one thing clear – this is not about challenging Durant’s toughness. And it's certainly not about spinning it into some weird free agency narrative. Not at all. You know that he wants to be out there. Any competitor would want to, especially when his team is gassed out and struggling without him.

And you know when he sees guys like Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney busting their asses to get back on the court, and Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green playing through what they’ve got, he wants to be with them.

This isn’t some January road trip. This is the NBA Finals. You think he doesn’t want another ring? You think he doesn’t want to come back tonight and lead the Warriors to three straight wins and get another Finals MVP. You think he doesn’t want to be the guy who leads the Warriors back from down 3-1 to win it all?

That would be absolutely legendary. That would be one of the all-time great comebacks ever. You think he doesn't want that?

Hell yes he does. And you know his teammates want him back. That team is busted up and banged up. They are damn tough, damn proud, and damn good. But they’ve played more than 500 games over the last five years. By my count, tonight will be their 104th playoff game of this run. That’s an extra season and a quarter of high pressure playoff games. That adds up. That takes a toll. And that toll is being paid now.

They are exhausted. They are broken down. They are sitting on empty. And they are going up against a machine in Toronto that was very careful with Kawhi’s minutes throughout the regular season.

If there was ever a time for them to get an injection, to get an emotional and energetic lift from someone returning, now is that time.  

So the question is: is Kevin Durant going to play tonight? All signs point to yes, at the moment.

And then the question is: what kind of a Kevin Durant do you get if he does? There’s no doubt that pretty much any percentage of Kevin Durant is better than no Kevin Durant, but there’s also no doubt that Toronto will go right at him defensively the moment he steps on the floor, if he steps on the floor.

They’re going to want to test that calf and see what he has. And the entire basketball world wants to see it too.

I don’t hear anyone arguing that the Warriors are better without this guy; because no one who matters would ever try to argue that. But just getting this guy back tonight probably will not be enough to send it back to Oakland. He needs to show up, ball out and he better not be the only one. Because Klay and Step can’t play one and a half on five. And while I would never question Durant’s toughness, or willingness to play through what he’s dealing with, the whole thing has been pretty weird. It just has.