After undergoing bone graft surgery Tuesday, Kevin Durant is at a bit of a crossroads. The six-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion and 2014 MVP is, at worst, the second-best player on the planet. But he’s also, at 26, gone under the knife far too many times in his relatively young career.
What effect, if any, will yet another foot surgery have on Durant’s ability and, more importantly, his longevity?
“Yeah, it remains to be seen,” CBS Sports NBA insider Ken Berger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s definitely unsettling that he had the two procedures. He had the second one because the screw was irritating the bone in his foot, (and he) had to have that removed (and) another piece of hardware (was) put in. That didn’t work. He saw the best specialist in the world, and they decided the bone graft surgery was the best way to go, and you just don’t know. There’s no 100 percent here. There’s no guarantee that this is going to take.”
The bigger the player, the more concerning the foot surgery. You don’t think so? Well, two words: Yao Ming.
“Different body obviously and different type of player,” Berger said, “but just was never able to shake the foot issues. You hope that’s not the case with a guy like Kevin Durant. He’s not carrying 340 pounds around like Yao was. He is obviously leaner and more athletic, but you just never know. It’s certainly something to be worried about if you’re a Thunder fan.”
Durant will need four to six months to recover from surgery, meaning he will miss the rest of the season. Oklahoma City (42-32) has a 2.5-game lead over New Orleans (39-34) for the final playoff spot in the West.
It’ll be interesting to see how Durant’s surgery influences his impending free agency after the 2015-16 season.
“Well, I think anytime you have an uncertainty like this with an injury, it plays into it,” Berger said. “They’re obviously going to see how he comes back from it and what he does next year. The interesting thing with Durant is when he signed this extension that expires after next season – unlike guys like LeBron and Melo and Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade – he did not do any opt-outs. It was just a straight extension, and he finally hits free agency after next season.
“In a lot of ways, the stars aligned for him because that big TV deal comes in, so the Thunder will be able to not only be able to give him the extra year and the typical amount of extra money, but a lot of extra money because the cap’s going up so much,” Berger continued. “But also on the other side, because so many teams are going to have cap room – and lots of it – there will be a lot more competition for him than there normally would be in a free agent year. So a lot of different aspects are going to play into this whole thing.”