Warriors

Kawhi Leonard offers advice to Kevin Durant over long rehab process

Kawhi Leonard offers advice to Kevin Durant over long rehab process

OAKLAND – Kevin Durant had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon on Wednesday, saying on Instagram that his road to recovery starts now.

It will be a long one, and might cost the Warriors forward most -- or even all -- of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Kawhi Leonard knows that situation all too well.

The Toronto Raptors superstar played all but nine games last season while with the San Antonio Spurs due to a nagging quadriceps injury. His decision to remain out was questioned incessantly –- Spurs team doctors reportedly cleared him to return -- though he never returned after Jan. 19 and ultimately ended up traded to Toronto in the offseason.

Durant was doubted and analyzed by armchair shrinks and analysts while recovering from a right calf strain, only to return in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and rupture his Achilles tendon in the same leg.

Now he’s down for a considerable stretch, with a long rehab and an even longer wait to regain the trademark explosiveness in his feet.

Leonard has been through the at-times agonizing rehabilitation side of the experience, and gave Durant some advice during his Wednesday press conference.

“Just from my own experience, I can talk from what I've been through,” Leonard said. "Like I said, we work so hard to get to this point and the game gets taken away from you, especially with leg injuries and things like that, you're not really able to run or do anything on the floor.

“So you really just have to change your mindset on things and try to attack each day of getting better and just know that you're going to play again one day. You want to come back as the player that you were. Make sure you come back when you feel healthy and you feel good enough that you feel confident enough in yourself to go back out there on the floor. Know that that day will come. And just like I said, attack each day. That's your assignment, to get back to the thing that you love to do.”

Leonard’s injury was drastically different, but he has fully returned to dominant form. He has the Raptors just one win from an NBA championship, which he’ll try to secure during Thursday’s Game 6 at Oracle Arena.

[RELATED: Kerr explains how Dubs never thought KD could tear his Achilles]

There’s no Durant from now on, because a desire to return and compete and help his team didn’t turn out well.

"It's devastating,” Leonard said Monday after Game 5. “You work so hard to get to this point, you know, these are the last games. You see he tried to come out and push himself, but obviously he tried to do a move 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 hope that he’s going to be OK mentally, just throughout the whole rehab process.”

Warriors' Steve Kerr hopes to ease Jordan Poole's G League transition

Warriors' Steve Kerr hopes to ease Jordan Poole's G League transition

SAN FRANCISCO -- Warriors rookie guard Jordan Poole has struggled mightily in his first season in the Bay Area. In an effort to combat his troubles, Golden State plans to send the guard to its G League affiliate at an undetermined date. 

"There's nothing set in stone yet," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following practice Tuesday morning. "He'll eventually be there. That's a big part of our development process. Santa Cruz has been a big asset over the years. A lot of players go back and forth, so it'll happen for Jordan at some point."

The Warriors' decision -- first reported Monday by NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole -- comes as Poole's early season is in peril. Over his first 24 appearances, he's shooting just 25.8 percent from the field. In Golden State's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, he collected his first "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" distinction, watching all 48 minutes from the bench. 

Poole's playing time this season has come as injuries have mounted. With much of the backcourt -- including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- out of the lineup, Poole is averaging 24 minutes per game,

Kerr admitted he didn't plan for that strategy when the first-round pick was drafted in June. 

"We've thrown too much at him too fast," he said. "But that's because we've had no choice." 

Last month, Poole shot down any notion that he was concerned with his play, telling NBC Sports Bay Area, "Doing that got me here. Why would I change?" 

However, Kerr had a different tone Tuesday afternoon. When asked wht contributed to Poole's struggles, he cited the 20-year old's age in relation to fellow rookies Eric Paschall (23) and Ky Bowman (22). 

"It's a hard transition from college to pro, but particularly when you're 20 years old and only played two years of college ball," Kerr said. "You're still getting stronger, you're growing, you're maturing. It's easier for a four-year guy like Eric Paschall or (three-year college player) Ky Bowman to come into the NBA. Those few extra years are a big difference.

"That first year it's about figuring everything out, shot selection, defense. Different actions that you have to guard. The speed and strength of your opponent. It's all brand-new.' 

Golden State has had success sending players to the G League in recent years. Last season, guard Jacob Evans averaged 11.3 points. 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 21 appearances with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Former Warriors Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook and Patrick McCaw also spent time in Santa Cruz when they were with Golden State. 

"It's a good wake-up call," Kerr said. "It's not all chartered planes and Four Seasons. You've got to grind through the G League schedule, which is not easy. That's important for young players to feel, too. It's a good situation for us and really for the whole league."

[RELATED: Why Warriors' Lee has felt like he has been in detention]
 
As for Poole, Kerr said the rookie has been working hard despite his bad play. Following Monday's loss, he went through an hour shooting workout in the team's practice facility inside Chase Center. Prior to games, he frequently watches film with assistant Chris DeMarco, giving Kerr optimism Poole can get out of his slump. 

"He's figuring it out and we're helping him along and he's going to grow," Kerr said. "This is going to be a very productive year for him."

Steph Curry says sitting with broken hand 'hardest thing' in career

Steph Curry says sitting with broken hand 'hardest thing' in career

The 2019-20 season has been extremely rough for the Warriors.

It's been even worse for Steph Curry.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” the two-time NBA MVP recently told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic.

Wow.

Remember, Curry underwent surgery on his right ankle in May 2011, and then was limited to just 26 (of 66) games during the 2011-12 lockout season.

He had a second procedure in April 2012, and as ESPN's Pablo Torre wrote in February 2016: "Curry didn't know if he'd wake up owning a dead man's tendons. The worst-case scenario now? Total re-reconstruction, meaning that everything rebuilt in Curry's first surgery would be reattempted. If that proved necessary, they'd use better parts -- specifically, tendons from a cadaver."

He sprained his right MCL during the 2016 playoffs, missed four games and wasn't at full strength the remainder of the postseason.

In 2016-17, he made only 51 regular-season appearances, and didn't return until Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals because of a sprained left MCL.

Yet none of that stacks up to his current predicament -- a broken left hand. The three-time NBA champion sustained the injury Oct. 30 against the Suns, and will be sidelined until February at the earliest.

In the end, he might end up missing about 75 percent of the season.

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“I’ve always been (injured) mostly during the offseason," he told Thompson. "That year was the lockout year, so it was a much shorter time on the shelf.

"I’m going to lose my mind.”

This makes sense. He just wants to play.

Get well, Steph. But also -- hurry back. The NBA needs you.

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