When Kevin Durant makes his return to the hardwood after a six-week hiatus, he’ll do so in a new city with a new team.
His highly-anticipated Phoenix Suns debut is expected to come soon, just in time for the Suns’ upcoming matchups against the NBA’s northern California neighbors: The Warriors and Sacramento Kings.
While neither Durant nor the Suns have ruled out Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday that there’s “an expectation” that Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks could be when he returns.
However, Windhorst added next Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets is “more likely.”
The Athletic’s Shams Charania also reported, citing sources, Phoenix is targeting Wednesday's game against Charlotte for Durant's debut.
Phoenix's next eight matchups are against Oklahoma City (Feb. 23, March 8), Milwaukee (Feb. 26), Charlotte (March 1), Chicago Bulls (March 3), Dallas Mavericks (March 5), Sacramento (March 11) and Golden State (March 13).
Sacramento’s final 25 games of the regular season won’t be a walk in the park. And it won't be any easier if Durant is cleared to play before the contest.
The Kings, currently the No. 3 seed in the West, have shocked the NBA world with a storybook season. But the job’s not finished yet and it’s not even close.
Mike Brown has warned his inexperienced squad about how important the post-All-Star break stretch is. The tables have turned this year, and the Kings are the ones being “hunted” during this final stretch.
For the most part, they’re ready and prepared.
But the West standings are that of a thriller movie, with plot twists and room for really anything to happen.
The Warriors are hoping for a climax in their movie as their current No. 9 seed is too risky for the wild, wild West. The defending champions haven’t had the season they had hoped for, but if any team knows how to work through adversity and make a deep playoff run, it’s Golden State.
If Durant plays against his former team, it'll be the first time Durant and Klay Thompson will be on the court at the same since Durant left the Bay for Brooklyn. As a member of the Nets, he sat out the previous matchup between Brooklyn and Golden State back in January.
RELATED: Where Warriors sit in post-All-Star break power rankings
While that matchup is something Dub Nation has been having to continuously put on hold, it couldn't come at a worse time for the Warriors.
Durant has been rehabbing a sprained MCL he suffered on Jan. 8. One month later, he was traded to Phoenix for a bevy of players and picks ahead of the Feb. 9 deadline.
The two-time NBA champ was among the league's top 10 scorers this season before he was injured, averaging 29.7 points per game on 55.9 percent shooting.