OAKLAND -- The Warriors will return to their relatively normal selves sometime early next month.
That’s at the very soonest, and assuming all goes well over the next three weeks.
Add Kevin Durant to the list of All-Stars who will miss significant time. The forward underwent an MRI test Friday that revealed “an incomplete rib cartilage fracture” that will keep him out of the lineup at least two weeks.
Durant, the team’s leading scorer at 26.6 points per game, joins No. 2 scorer Stephen Curry and No. 3 scorer Klay Thompson on the sideline. Curry will be out at least another week, Thompson closer to two weeks.
The upshot: The Warriors' slim chance of overtaking the Rockets for the No. 1 overall seed are fading toward invisibility.
With the playoffs four weeks away, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will spend the rest of this month juggling lineups and rotations with the limited available options.
The first replacement starter at small forward, Friday night against Sacramento, is Andre Iguodala. Kerr over the next couple weeks likely will try several options. Omri Casspi is another possibility, as well as Draymond Green getting some minutes at small forward. The decisions will be based mostly on matchups.
Durant, however, may be the ultimate NBA mismatch insofar as there is no other 6-foot-11 small forward with his broad skills and versatility.
“They said (I’ll be out) a couple weeks,” he said prior to tipoff against the Kings. “I’m just trying to get healthy. Just trying to make sure I’m out there and able to be me on the court.
“It’s not great, timing-wise, but it’s all about feeling better when I’m out there playing.”
Durant sustained the injury last Sunday in Minnesota, after taking an elbow to the ribs from Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.
“I thought it was just a little contusion,” said Durant, who will not go on the upcoming road trip to Phoenix and San Antonio.
Durant played through the discomfort Wednesday night against the Lakers, leading the Warriors in scoring with 26 points. During that game, he went to close out and “felt something stretch and pull.”
After going through a light practice Thursday, pain intensified, leading to the MRI test and diagnosis.
“I wish we were out there hooping and using these days to get better and sharpening up our skills,” he said. “But that’s what happens when you play a contact sport. Stuff happens.
“It could have been worse for all three of us. But, luckily, it’s not.”