The Oklahoma City Thunder’s season just keeps getting worse.
In the same week that power forward and defensive linchpin Serge Ibaka was reported to be out for up to a month and a half, the team also learned that they’re losing reigning MVP Kevin Durant indefinitely.
A jones fracture in his foot caused Durant to miss a little more than the first month of the season, and he was then called out of action again in February, after appearing to have aggravated the injury again. The assumption was that Durant would return in time for the playoffs, but now that seems unlikely.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti called a press conference today to announce that Durant is being “removed from basketball activities… the goal is to get him back on the court healthy, whenever that is,” Presti said.
Presti appeared haggard during the announcement — as if we needed any further indication that he was delivering bad news.
The Thunder are quickly establishing an identity as one of the NBA’s great “could’ve been” teams. In Durant, the red-hot Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, they once had three MVP-caliber players on the same team, at a very ripe age. And with the similarly young Ibaka, one of the game’s best rim-protectors, they made up a quartet that promised spectacular things.
Harden was of course traded to the Houston Rockets, and injuries to the remaining three mean OKC hasn’t seen a title run with a full, healthy version of their amazing core since they lost to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Next season might be the Thunder’s final chance to make the most of the lightning they’ve caught in a bottle, as it’s the last on Durant’s current contract before he can test free agency.
— John Wilmes