Kevin Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise Tuesday night during an away game against the Washington Wizards. He is reported to be out indefinitely and will be reevaluated in four weeks. Although a return by postseason is possible, Durant’s injury is not good news for the Golden State Warriors.
Warriors’ Kevin Durant Sprains MCL – Out Indefinitely
The road to the Western Conference Finals just got a whole lot more interesting.
Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant left Tuesday’s game against the Washington Wizards in the first quarter after suffering an injury originally described as a “hyperextended left knee.”
Durant underwent an MRI to confirm the extent of his injury Tuesday night, and the news could be better. The Warriors issued an update Wednesday morning confirming that Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise. Durant is listed as out indefinitely, but will be reevaluated in a month.
Injury Update: Kevin Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and a tibial bone bruise.
Full details below. pic.twitter.com/t3JkVnMmqa
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) March 1, 2017
Durant was injured less than a minute into Tuesday’s contest, after Wizards Center Marcin Gortat threw Warriors center Zaza Pachulia to the ground, causing Pachulia to roll into Durant’s leg. Gortat was called for an offensive foul on the play.
Here's the play that sent Kevin Durant limping to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/2YKVh1KLPu
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) March 1, 2017
The Warriors went on to lose to the Wizards 108-112.
Reporter David Aldridge described the Warriors locker room as “somber” after the loss, while Warriors head coach Steve Kerr expressed equal parts optimism and concern about the incident.
"We'll just wait and see and keep our fingers crossed." -Steve Kerr on Kevin Durant's injury… pic.twitter.com/phpItGUtYp
— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 1, 2017
Unexpected Ending to an Anticipated Contest
The Warriors-Wizards match up had been highly anticipated, as it marked the first time Durant was slated to face his former coach, Scott Brooks. Brooks worked with Durant as an assistant coach with the Seattle Sonics under P.J. Carlesimo and as a head coach after the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City and Carlesimo was fired. Brooks himself would be fired by Oklahoma City in April 2015 after seven seasons with the franchise. Durant publically supported the firing, but described it as “tough” for him.
Durant maintained a positive relationship with Brooks after he was fired by the Thunder, which led some to speculate that Durant might return to his hometown of Washington to join Brooks and the Wizards when considering deals as a free agent last year. Durant did not even meet with the Wizards to discuss such prospects, however, opting to join the red-hot Warriors and maximize his chances of a championship ring instead.
Earlier in the week Durant opened up to media outlets to explain why he did not seriously consider a return to Washington, saying simply that playing at home was a part of his life that had “come and gone” and something he had “conquered already.”
Warriors to Sign Matt Barnes
With Durant’s status for the remainder of the season and postseason questionable, the Warriors were quick to reach out and sign veteran forward Matt Barnes. Barnes played with the Warriors previously, from 2006-2008. ESPN reports that Barnes has agreed to an immediate contract with the Warriors. Barnes also confirmed the news via his Instagram page. ESPN also reports that in order to make roster room for Barnes, the Warriors will be forced to abandon their plans to sign Los Angeles Lakers guard Jose Calderon after Calderon clears waivers. Calderon would have added needed depth to the Warriors bench come playoffs.
Impact of Durant’s Loss on the Western Conference Race
The Warriors have already clinched their playoff berth, so Durant’s absence for the remainder of the regular season may not have much impact. However, if out for the postseason, Durant’s loss will undoubtedly be felt by the Warriors. Durant has been playing at an MVP level, averaging 25.8 points, 4.9 assists and 8.4 rebounds per game. He is a consistent offensive threat, and his ability to use his long limbs on defense to disrupt opponents is a highly valued asset. Although the Warriors certainly don’t lack talent, and are capable of winning the Western Conference without Durant, it is a notably tougher road without him. Teams like the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers are playing high-level basketball as they head down the stretch, and are relatively healthy squads with stronger benches than the Warriors.