OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — NBA MVP Kevin Durant will miss the rest of the season and have bone graft surgery next week to treat a fractured bone in his right foot.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had said last week he likely would be shut down for the season. The team was trying to figure out why his pain remained long after he was supposed to be able to play.
General manager Sam Presti said Friday the team expects Durant to return to basketball activities within the four to six months.
He said this decision was aimed at Durant’s “long-term health and stability” and represented a consensus of Durant and his representatives, specialists and the team. The procedure was termed the “most proactive and recommended approach.”
The Thunder are in position to make the playoffs without Durant, but they clearly will miss one of the game’s most dynamic players. Durant last played Feb. 19 before the discomfort became too much to bear. He has played in just 27 games, averaging 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Durant had his initial surgery in October and had been healing well. But in late February, he had a procedure to replace a screw that was rubbing against another bone. After that second surgery, the Thunder expected him to return in one to two weeks.
Durant then consulted with three foot and ankle specialists. It was determined there still was pain from the rubbing, plus regression in the initial break. It was then decided to proceed with the bone graft, Presti said.
“It’s a blow for him and for our league,” Cleveland’s LeBron James said of his U.S. Olympic teammate. “We’re a brotherhood and you never want anyone to go down, especially of that stature. He means a lot to our game and obviously means a lot to the OKC family, and you just wish him well and hopefully for a speedy recovery.”
A week ago, Presti said Durant was struggling and the team did not want to rush him back. When asked if it would be best to end Durant’s season, Presti said: “Essentially, that’s the direction that we’re taking right now.”
Presti said the bone graft is a common procedure to fix the less than 10 percent of such foot operations that don’t work out.
“While everyone is disappointed that Kevin falls into that group, we are encouraged that the bone graft procedure has historically demonstrated long-term health and stability,” Presti said.
The Thunder entered Friday three games ahead of Phoenix for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings. Point guard Russell Westbrook has emerged as an MVP candidate. He leads the league with 27.3 points per game while averaging 8.7 assists and 7.1 rebounds.
AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed to this report.
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