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Jay Williams: Warriors misdiagnosed Kevin Durant, mishandled public statements

Golden State Warriors v Toronto Raptors - Game Five

TORONTO,ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors consoles and injured Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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Charles Barkley and Jalen Rose led the charge criticizing the Warriors for playing Kevin Durant in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Another former NBA player’s assessment of Durant’s injury might carry even more weight.

Jay Williams does not speak for Durant. But Williams is close with Durant and hosts Durant’s web show. I’d listen closely to what he says.

Jay Williams on ESPN:

Ultimately, I think this falls on the Golden State Warriors. He got misdiagnosed. He got misdiagnosed. And I know for a fact that he was told that with a torn calf, a partial torn calf, that it unloaded the pressure on the Achilles, that there was no chance that the Achilles could be injured at all. And for that to happen in the first half of the ball game, I think just – I can’t even fathom that. Because watching it, I got ignited. I got pissed off. Because that’s what you came into the game thinking was going to happen.

Number two, from a public-relations perspective, I think the Warriors have handled this whole thing has been horrific. Their camp knew that they weren’t going to play until Game 5, Game 6. It was set from the beginning. The Warriors didn’t come out and say that. They said potentially even during the Portland series, “Hey, he could come back. Game 1, he could come back. Game 2, he could come back.” Joe Lacob is going on Stephen A. Smith’s show, Greenie, and saying, “He will be back.” I think all of that gives subliminal pressure to a player who we all know wants to compete at the highest level.

Now, if you really have his best interests at hand, if you really want this guy to be around the next four to five years, you say, “You’re not playing this game. We’re thinking long-term instead of short-term.” But when it seeps into your mind that you think he could leave, all of a sudden, “We have to get it right now.” And I don’t care what anybody says. That plays into your psyche a little bit, when you think this guy is going to leave and you want to make sure that you get a threepeat. Because for a team, it’s about winning right now if you’re not going to have that option next year.

Eventually, we’ll hear directly from Durant. I don’t know whether he blames Golden State as much as Williams does. But it is worth noting that someone close to Durant feels this way.

Durant was reportedly in agony about not helping his team earlier in the series. Meanwhile, teammates were reportedly frustrated he hadn’t returned. This was a tense situation.

If Golden State knew Durant wouldn’t play until Game 5 or 6, Williams is absolutely right. The Warriors made it worse by not giving a clearer timeline. The repeated hope of Durant returning followed by the repeated letdown of him not only created misery and pressure for everyone involved.

Did Golden State misdiagnose Durant? That’s hard to say without access to medical information. But even Steve Kerr said he was told the worst thing that could happen is an aggravation of the calf injury. It sure looks like the Warriors got this wrong.

Now, Durant can enter free agency this summer. Does he feel mistreated by Golden State and want to leave?

Durant’s injury carries massive ramifications, but we’re only just beginning to learn how they’ll manifest.