March 20, 2015
In disheartening NBA news from earlier today, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti announced that franchise player and all-world talent Kevin Durant will be out indefinitely after his surgically-repaired right foot hasn't respond the way that the team was initially hoping. Here's some video of Presti talking to the OKC media:
This news comes as a bummer to basketball fans everywhere, maybe with the possible exception of Golden State Warriors fans terrified at the thought of a first-round series against OKC. There are only a finite amount of NBA players who have the talent to ascend to superstar status at a certain time, and Durant is currently one of them. The sobering prospect of him missing the playoffs would make the months of April and May feel much less complete. The West isn't the same without the skinny 6-foot-11 forward routinely making step-back jumpers and crazy finger rolls after a couple of gigantic strides.
I understand the move completely, though. Big guys and feet are not a combination that you want to mess around with as a franchise.
Besides the general fan perspective, the move to shut down Durant also indirectly affects the Sixers, who own the Thunder's protected first-round pick after acquiring it in exchange for eating JaVale McGee's salary. At a press conference the day after the trade deadline, Sam Hinkie set the bar low on the odds of the top-18 pick conveying this season, estimating that they were at about 30 percent. After Washington went in the tank for the better part of a month, the chance became much more likely.
Unfortunately for Hinkie and co., the Thunder are now without two of their three big guns (Serge Ibaka is out 4-6 weeks after knee surgery), and because of that, they're facing a rough climb to make it to 19th place. Here's what the current standings look like according to Derek Bodner's Pick Tracker, which you should be reading every day if you have any interest about this stuff:
If the Sixers are going to acquire that pick this season, the Thunder would need to pass one of the Wizards-Bulls-Raptors triumvirate. I think Hinkie wants to receive it in 2015, because a healthy Thunder team next year would likely push the pick closer to 30 than 20. That means everything is in this guy's hands now, which is probably the way God intended it: