This weekend, the Oklahoma City Thunder will make their annual exhibition tour stop to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 6:00pm in the BOK Center. It will be the seventh year that the Thunder has brought their game to Tulsa since they moved from Seattle and they will bring all of the wonder and excitement that surrounds an NBA team.
Except Kevin Durant.
The 2014-14 NBA regular season MVP suffered a “jones fracture” in his right foot and will be out of action a minimum of six to eight weeks. A Jones fracture is a fracture that occurs at the base of the small toe.
According to team officials it was not caused by an in-game incident, but occurred over time. No decision has been made at this writing of whether or not surgery will be performed, but regardless of that Durant is expected to make a full recovery.
The only other member of the Thunder who is on the IR is newcomer Mitch McGary, the Oklahoma City’s first round selection in the 2014 NBA draft. McGary suffered a broken foot on October 9th and is expected to miss six weeks.
It’s not like the Thunder hasn’t faced adversity before. In fact, it was roughly a year ago when point guard Russell Westbrook was out of the entire Thunder preseason and a good portion of the first month of the 2013-14 NBA season when a stitch popped in his repaired right knee.
Durant’s injury will allow Westbrook to step out from his sidekick role to a degree and allow, with help from Thunder veteran Nick Collison, him to deliver an equivalent performance going forward after the start of the regular season. In any case, the organization is prepared to move ahead.
“Our team and organization have been in situations similar to this in the past,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a recent press conference. “This is when we’re at our best. One of the things that we traditionally try to do is, within every adversity, we’re always looking for where the opportunity is.”
Through all this, the Thunder are doing well in the preseason. After falling to the Denver Nuggets 114-101 on October 8th, they responded by handing losses to Dallas (118-109) on October 10th and on the first preseason game after Durant went out took the Memphis Grizzlies 117-107 on October 14th. The games came after an energetic camp where the team was eager to get the season going.
The Thunder will play two exhibition games before gracing the BOK Center with their presence, an October 16th tilt with the New Orleans Pelicans in the Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans and a October 17th match-up with the Toronto Raptors. They will tip off the regular season on October 29th on the road in Portland.