OAKLAND — Kevin Durant has had successful surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, he announced via Instagram on Wednesday, moments after head coach Steve Kerr said the team didn’t have any updates on his conditoin. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Warriors agreed to let Durant announce the surgery before they issued a statement.
“Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY,” Durant posted. “My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way.
“Like I said Monday, I’m hurting deeply, but I’m OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat.”
Durant, who has long made it known that he wants to control his own narrative, posted a photo of him in a hospital bed 15 minutes after Kerr stepped to the podium in Oakland to say that, while Golden State had no news, the organization stood by the process by which Durant was cleared to play. Now facing a 12-month recovery, the injury will cause Durant to miss out on a full year of his prime and will throw the NBA’s offseason into disarray.
“Would we got back and do it over again? Damn right,” Kerr said after practice on Wednesday. “But, that’s easy to say after the results.”
Team doctors and an outside consultant all weighed in on what Kerr and general manager Bob Myers called a collaborative process in deciding when and how to bring Durant back from a right calf strain suffered on May 8, during Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
“That collaboration included Kevin and his business partner, Rich Kleinman, our medical staff, his own outside opinion, second opinion doctor, outside of our organization,” Kerr said. “Kevin checked all the boxes, and he was cleared to play by everybody involved.”
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What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way. Like I said Monday, I'm hurting deeply, but I'm OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat. Its just the way things go in this game and I'm proud that I gave it all I physically could, and I'm proud my brothers got the W. It's going to be a journey but I'm built for this. I’m a hooper I know my brothers can get this Game 6, and I will be cheering with dub nation while they do it.
Point guard Stephen Curry, was supportive of the team’s medical staff, saying that both they and Myers have “our best interests [in mind] of not just what we can do in this series, but long term in our overall health.”
In the second quarter of his return against the Toronto Raptors on Monday, 33 days after he first injured his calf, Durant dribbled through his legs to break down Serge Ibaka and and planted his right foot for the first time. He crumpled to the ground and grabbed his right ankle. He was helped to the locker room by both Curry and Andre Iguodala. After the game, a tearful Myers announced that Durant had injured his Achilles, though did not specify a tear. That was confirmed in an MRI on Tuesday in New York.
“When we gathered all the information, our feeling was the worse thing that could happen would be a re-injury of the calf, and that was the advice and the information that we had,” Kerr said on Wednesday. “At that point, once Kevin was cleared to play, he was comfortable with that. We were comfortable with that, so the Achilles came as a complete shock. I don’t know what else to add to that, other than had we known that this was even in the realm of possibility, there’s no way we ever would have allowed Kevin to come back.”
Before he went down, Durant had displayed his characteristic dominance, scoring 11 points and hitting all three 3-point shots he took. The 10-time All-Star had averaged 32.3 points through 12 postseason games, and while Golden State did surrender a 13-point lead, the Warriors largely played inspired after Durant went down, escaping with a 106-105 win.
“It’s devastating, mostly for Kevin, obviously,” Kerr said. “But I feel horribly for [director of sports medicine] Rick Celebrini as well, who is one of the best people I’ve ever been around and one of the smartest, brightest minds that I’ve ever been around. He’s devastated. Bob, the team, we all are. But we made the decision collaboratively with all the information that we had and we thought it was the right one.”
Durant’s Instagram post said that his surgery — performed in New York by Dr. Martin O’Malley — was successful, but it did not address what’s become a firestorm of finger-pointing on social media and on talk radio.
Immediately after Game 5, Myers placed blame on himself as head of the basketball operations department. That hasn’t stopped the widespread second guessing, particularly because of what Durant’s offseason could have meant for a player considered among the best in the world, and what 12 months of rehab mean for his financial future.
Durant was set to become the most coveted free agent in the NBA this offseason, an offseason that was likely to center around both him and Kyrie Irving. It was widely reported that Durant had planned on opting out of the final year of his contract with Golden State, and would seek a max deal elsewhere, with most speculation putting him in Los Angeles or New York. The Knicks had cleared two max slots with a midseason trade of Kristaps Porzingis, and both the Clippers and Lakers will have max slots available.
Durant could choose not to opt out and rehab on Golden State’s dime, or he could still opt out and hope for a better result than teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who ruptured his Achilles on Jan. 26, 2018, and had no options but a mid-level exception from the Warriors this past offseason. Durant would likely draw more attention, but the fact that he would miss a full season at a max salary could very well scare teams away.