Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant left Tuesday's road game against the Wizards with a hyperextended left knee and did not return. An MRI has been scheduled for Wednesday, though The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the early fear is Durant will be out for months.
The Golden State Warriors are bracing for the possibility that All-Star forward Kevin Durant could be lost for the rest of the regular season – or perhaps longer – with a left knee injury, league sources told The Vertical.
Durant underwent an MRI late Tuesday night to survey the knee damage, and team officials and members of Durant’s inner circle were expressing fear early Wednesday morning that the severity of Durant’s injury could preclude a return to the Warriors lineup before the start of the Western Conference playoffs in six weeks, league sources told The Vertical.
Some close to Durant feared the damage could sideline him even longer, league sources said.
Nevertheless, doctors were evaluating the test results and the Warriors expected to make a public announcement later Wednesday.
Durant signed a two-year deal that included a player option that he expected to exercise to become a free agent again in July. Durant has consistently indicated that he expected to re-sign on a longer-term deal with Golden State this summer.
Durant was injured when teammate Zaza Pachulia fell backwards into his left leg while grappling with Wizards center Marcin Gortat less than a minute into the first quarter. He hobbled through two more possessions before leaving for good.
After the game, a 112-108 victory by the Wizards, a somber mood was present in the Warriors' locker room over the status of Durant's future. Anthony Slater of The Mercury News has more on that and some postgame comments from Durant's teammates:
Pachulia said he had no idea Durant was behind him and initially had no idea he’d injured the star forward. He didn’t blame the reckless loose ball foul on Gortat, calling it “just a basketball play” and asked inquiring reporters: “You guys think I did it on purpose or something?”
Twenty minutes after the loss, the Warriors opened the locker room to the press. Durant had been gone for some time, already off for testing. His teammates had yet to see him and gauge his mood. Some said they texted him encouragement. But the mood in the room was silent and decidedly somber, much more so than a typical regular season loss.
“Obviously KD is the No. 1 reason (for the mood),” Pachulia said.
“We’re not going to act like he died when we don’t even know what happened,” Green said. “We don’t know what’s going on.”
The Warriors have 22 games left, spanning the next six weeks, before the playoffs begin on April 15. If Durant’s return timetable falls anywhere before that — in the next few weeks or right before the first round — the Warriors will breathe a sigh of relief.
“”The core guys have been together for awhile — myself, Andre, Shaun, Klay, Draymond,” Curry said. “But we have a different roster and we haven’t been without him but one game this year. So it’ll be an adjustment.”
Enough talent remains for them to compete with anyone on any night. But until Durant returns and the cupboard is stocked full, they’ll be stripped of their status as runaway title favorites and a Western Conference that has often felt like a foregone conclusion the past few months suddenly has some intrigue.
Now everyone’s attention turns to the MRI results.
“We just hope he’s alright,” Klay Thompson said. “If he has to take some time off, we’re fine with it. We just want him healthy down the stretch.”
Kevin Durant heading back to the locker room, holding left knee pic.twitter.com/l6zsUxY5Ky— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 1, 2017
Draymond Green on the KD injury: "Just really hoping it's a bone bruise. Obviously that's still the hope." pic.twitter.com/oqbfMHVhvP— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 1, 2017
Steve Kerr on Kevin Durant's unknown status with MRI results pending pic.twitter.com/Xx5BOZ5P9W— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 1, 2017
Steph Curry on what it's like for an injured player waiting for MRI results pic.twitter.com/bLKWaAekpJ— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 1, 2017
Zaza Pachulia describes the play/collision that led to Durant's injury, says he's texted KD (who left arena before game ended) pic.twitter.com/9kGhNGTo4O— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 1, 2017
Durant entered Tuesday's action averaging a team-high 25.8 points in his first season with the Warriors.