Sports: Like Durant, Kawhi has proven he’s willing to risk health for rings - PressFrom - Canada
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SportsLike Durant, Kawhi has proven he’s willing to risk health for rings

18:18  12 june  2019
18:18  12 june  2019 Source:   sportsnet.ca

Report: Knicks ‘expected to push hard’ for Kawhi Leonard in free agency

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Would Durant be willing to take the same risk ? As one front office executive put it to me last week: Everything should be viewed as on the table since Durant The story writes itself for Durant : He joins a franchise with a sad history that is missing only a star. He leads them to success in the playoffs, and

He comes early, he stays late, and he ' s coachable. He ' s just like a sponge. When you consider he ' s only had [two years] of college and no training camp yet Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kawhi Leonard. Career statistics and player information from NBA.com, or Basketball-Reference.com.

Like Durant, Kawhi has proven he’s willing to risk health for rings © Frank Gunn/CP

It doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that it could have been Leonard helped off the floor, not to return, his basketball future very much in doubt.

There but for the Grace of God goes Kawhi.

You wonder if that thought — or some version of it — was running through the heads of the Toronto Raptors decision makers and medical staff or Kawhi Leonard as Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant was being helped off the floor at Scotiabank Arena early in the second quarter of Game 5 on Monday night.

It clearly wasn’t front and centre for the (small?) portion of Raptors fans who briefly seemed to delight in Durant’s injury before they either realized the severity of it or how bad they looked taking pleasure in another’s misfortune. Or they took the cue from the likes of Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka to check themselves as Durant was being gathered up.

Kawhi Leonard wishes Kevin Durant well amid ‘devastating’ injury

Kawhi Leonard wishes Kevin Durant well amid ‘devastating’ injury Kawhi Leonard expressed his heartfelt sympathies for Kevin Durant after the superstar suffered an apparent Achilles injury during the Golden State Warriors’ 106-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Durant, making an appearance in a game for the first time in over a month due to a calf strain, went down with the new injury at the 9:46 point of the second quarter. Kevin Durant goes down…. pic.twitter.com/fSjEB1QiQv —

Durant , meanwhile, he has spent the first four games of The Finals offering tips, giving pep talks and leading cheers for a Warriors team that has lost Or that he ’ s leaving anyway, so he obviously does not care. Truth is, unless you’ve been an elite athlete dealing with a soft tissue injury, you have no idea.

He showed up, won his rings , won multiple Finals MVPs, and he still doesn't get the love or Kaskey-Blomain: Kawhi Leonard. To me, it felt like the only way Leonard would stay in Toronto past this Considering the heavy lifting that he has had to do, it seems quite possible that Leonard would opt to

But it doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that it could have been Leonard helped off the floor, not to return, his basketball future very much in doubt.

Certainly Leonard had no difficulty empathizing with Durant’s plight, not after missing nearly an entire season last year and spending all of this one balancing the demands of his job with what his body could reasonably give.

“What do I think about his situation?” Leonard said after Game 5 when asked about Durant. “It’s devastating … You work so hard to get to this point, these are the last games … and I feel bad for him. I’ve been in that situation before.

“I hope he has a speedy recovery, and just gets healthy and I hope that he’s going to be OK mentally, just throughout the whole rehab process. Because like I said before, we work so hard to either play in the Finals or just play in the NBA, and when you’re not playing, it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to attack each day and get better and come back strong.”

Report: Kevin Durant expected to return in Game 3 or 4 of NBA Finals

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Kevin Durant will have an MRI on Tuesday to determine the severity of the right Achilles injury he suffered in Game 5. If Durant suffered a tear, the injury would have giant implications on the free agent market. Durant was expected to opt out of his contract — he has a .5MM player option for

Durant ’ s body language— he pulled up suddenly while running, seemingly taken aback—called to mind how other basketball players have reacted to tearing an Achilles tendon. He could’ve told the team that, as the only person who knows what his own body feels like , he was not comfortable on the floor.

Consider the parallels: There was a superstar free-agent-to-be — Durant — trying to play at the highest level while recovering from a pre-existing injury after having his character questioned in the process.

And there was said free-agent-to-be leaving the arena on crutches, his right leg in a walking boot, his season done and his off-season and the chance to sign a long-term contract worth many, many millions suddenly jeopardized, not to mention his team’s chances to win an NBA title along with it.

That has always been the worst-case scenario facing Leonard and the Raptors.

And an added twist? The Warriors’ director of sports science and performance is Rick Celebrini — a protégé and business partner of Raptors director of sport science Alex McKechnie — who joined Golden State before this season.

Chances are the protocols the Warriors used to determine Durant’s readiness were similar to the guidelines the Raptors and McKechnie have been following so carefully with Leonard.

Kawhi Leonard offers Kevin Durant heartfelt recovery advice

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I hope he has a speedy recovery and just gets healthy and hope that he ’ s going to be OK mentally " Like I said before, we work so hard to either play in a Finals or just play in the NBA, and you know, when Kerr made it known that he was willing to insert Durant into the lineup after just one practice.

NBA insider provides Kevin Durant , Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler updates. But it is the likes of Golden State Warriors superstar Durant and Boston Celtics guard Irving of whom the most interest is It’ s going to have to be proven . But all I can say is, when other teams watch the Knicks

The difference is that in Durant’s case, events have played out on a compressed, 33-day timeline since he went down on May 8 in the second half of Game 5 of the Warriors’ second-round series against the Houston Rockets.

Leonard’s situation has played out over an entire season in Toronto after he was traded last July by the San Antonio Spurs, arriving with an air of mystery surrounding the exact nature of his injury and how much he was willing to risk to play at the highest level for his new team.

How close has Leonard been to the exact scenario playing out while Raptors fans stared on in stunned silences is something we’ll never know. With one or two games left in what has been a magical Raptors season — Toronto can win the NBA title in Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday night, if not Game 7 is in Toronto on Sunday — hopefully we’ll never find out and Leonard can finish his season strong and healthy.

But there’s no doubt that the Raptors have been playing some version of injury blackjack with Leonard over the course of the post-season, as the Warriors were with Durant since he went down.

What to Expect if Kevin Durant Returns: It’s Far From a Lock for the Warriors

What to Expect if Kevin Durant Returns: It’s Far From a Lock for the Warriors The Toronto Raptors started the season fast, and quickly established themselves as serious championship contenders. On Nov. 29, they were a league-best 18-4, but faced their sternest test of the season: a game against the mighty Golden State Warriors. The Raptors had three things going for them: Stephen Curry was at the end of an 11-game absence with a groin strain. Draymond Green was out for the Warriors as well. And the game was being played in Toronto. The Raptors did win, in overtime, 131-128. For the Warriors, Kevin Durant had 51 points. That performance, his best of the season, shows the kind of impact Durant might have if and when he returns to the N.B.A.

Kevin Wayne Durant (born September 29, 1988) is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

But Durant himself doesn't have long to sort out his own plan. The Warriors are likely willing to sign The people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to basketball were wrong. He ' s a good Kawhi Leonard is the No. 1 free agent available this summer and with Durant out until this time next

As one member of the Raptors medical staff said, the only way to make sure you don’t make a mistake as the medical decision-maker in the big money, high stakes world of professional sports?

Don’t say yes.

“If you say the athlete is not ready, you are never wrong,” he said.

But that’s not how it works. If professional athletes only played when they were fully healthy, when there were minimal risks to mind, body and reputations, the whole enterprise would collapse in on itself.

Safe is boring. Safe doesn’t win, and safe doesn’t pay the bills, for anyone.

It’s why watching Leonard’s ‘load management’ strategy play out over the course of the season for Toronto has been such compelling drama in its own right, adjacent to his amazing on-court feats.

The correct and calculated business decision for Leonard was always to take this season to get his body right so he could demonstrate that he was physically capable of playing at the level he was at when he was second in NBA MVP voting in 2016 and third in 2017 before being shut down.

Get healthy and then let the market dictate his next move, whether it’s sign for five years and $190 million in Toronto; four years and $140 million elsewhere, or perhaps a shorter-term deal that would give him more flexibility and allow him to hit free agency again after a 10th season when he’d be eligible for even richer deals.

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He squeezed the ball like a grapefruit before racing away for a dunk. “It’ s insane, the stuff he does with his hands,” Ayres said. “I’m telling you, I think he has the He will be expected to put them all over the Thunder’ s Kevin Durant throughout their best-of-seven series. “My hands make me a little longer, and

KAWHI LEONARD’ s move to the Toronto Raptors - which saw DeMar DeRozan go the opposite way to the Kawhi Leonard will spend the 2018-19 season with the Raptors (Image: GETTY). Yet Durant - who has won back-to-back rings since joining the Warriors - believes that the deal is a positive move

That was the speculation is some corners as Leonard appeared in just 60 of 82 games, although if you watched how hard and almost recklessly he played when he was on the floor, the answer was always obvious.

But the question remained: How much was Leonard willing to risk in order to lift the Raptors to new heights?

It was a variation on the questions that swirled around Durant’s halting return to play. With two rings and two Finals MVPs to show for his two years in Golden State, what was his incentive to rush back and play with a slow-to-heal calf injury?

Narratively, he might even benefit if the Warriors struggled without him, his absence the definitive proof he was central to Golden State’s success the past two years, rather than a luxury add-on to a 73-9 team that already won a ring before he joined them.

As other Warriors played through injuries — Andre Iguodala with his calf strain; Kevon Looney with his collarbone; Klay Thompson and his balky hamstring — whispers Durant was somehow malingering began to waft out the way these kinds of smoke signals do — back channel communications with agents, knowing winks from team staffers or even an off-the-record cryptic comment from a teammate.

Which explains why Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers, bordering on tears, came out swinging in the wee hours after Durant went down.

“To tell you something about Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong,” Myers said.

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"Coach Pop has given him a lot of opportunity to go play his game," Durant told reporters following practice Thursday. " He ' s grown so much. " He ' s not a system player," Durant said earlier this season, laughing with reporters from the absurdity of the ongoing "story." "I know you guys like to throw that

Kawhi Leonard might be there. But, Kawhi ’ s not a lock to be in the meeting. Woj didn’t mention Tim Duncan The Summer of Durant will be wild, with Durant eager to be courted, to see San Antonio has rebuilt its dynasty, but rival executives believe the Spurs will explore ways of adding Durant to

“And I’m not here to — he’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person, it’s not fair. I’m lucky to know him.”

Getting to know Leonard for long stretches of the Raptors season was a challenge. His famously reserved personality and his metronomic, individualized routine didn’t offer a lot of crevices for even his teammates to grab onto and create a connection.

Coupled with the constant reports he was just passing through Toronto on the way to somewhere brighter or warmer, it was easy to understand why even within the Raptors dressing room there was some mystery about how willing he was to sacrifice for the cause.

Those questions are out of the window now and perhaps proof — in light of Durant’s injury — that questioning an elite athlete’s passion to play is almost always a terrible idea.

Over Toronto’s eight-week playoff run, Leonard has proven what Durant tried to show in his 12 minutes in Game 5 — that if the currency of a championship is physical risk, he’s willing to ante up.

After a season of precisely calibrated playing time, Leonard’s game log reads like something out of the 1970s at some points as the minutes have ramped up and his load gets ever heavier. He’s played 40 minutes or more in 10 of the Raptors’ 23 post-season games and is averaging 39 minutes a night in the playoffs.

He’s wavered at times with reports — and replays — suggesting he’s had issues with his troublesome right quad and compensating tendonitis in his left knee. Anyone who watched Leonard grind his way through 34 minutes in Toronto’s Game 4 over the Milwaukee Bucks after only a day’s recovery following his epic, leg-dragging 52-minute contribution in Toronto’s must-have, double-overtime win in Game 3 would never question what he’s in this for.

The good news for the Raptors is the appreciation and confirmation can still play out while Leonard is healthy and on the floor, and pushing himself to the limit in pursuit of a championship. If he’s bent at times over the post-season, he’s yet to break.

Kevin Durant and he Warriors have not been so lucky.

What they’re saying about us: Warriors success could hinge on Durant.
The world waits in anticipation ahead of what could be a defining game in NBA history. With the Toronto Raptors leading the NBA Finals 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors, GSW fans are holding onto the last straw. If the North wins tonight, we’ll be overthrowing the defending champions and winning the championship for the first time since the league’s inception. As basketball fans collectively hold their breath for Game 5, here’s what media in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world are saying about us: KD: The Warriors’ only hope The Warriors could still have a chance at the title if Kevin Durant returns, says the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letorneau.

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