Kevin Durant Practices with Warriors Amid Injury Rehab, Questionable for Game 5

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, right, talks to forward Kevin Durant during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Sunday that Kevin Durant was resuming practice with the team, and he is listed as questionable for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina

Steve Kerr said Kevin Durant will practice today and then get some work with younger players. Status not clear for Game 5

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

Steve Kerr didn’t rule out Kevin Durant playing in Game 5.

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Warriors’ Steve Kerr said Kevin Durant will practice on Sunday and get “extra work in with younger players” as well. Making progress before Game 5 on Monday: “What he’s going to do today, he hasn’t done. He’s doing more today.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium shared word of Durant's status for Monday night.

Durant, 30, hasn't played since suffering a strained right calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors cruised through the Western Conference Finals without Durant, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers. But Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors have proved a far stiffer challenge, taking a 3-1 lead in the series and leaving the Warriors on the brink of elimination. 

That has all but squashed any of the delusional talk that the Warriors might be better without the 30-year-old Durant, who was dominating the postseason before his injury, averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.2 steals and a block per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from three.

Without the two-time defending NBA Finals MVP, the Warriors have struggled against Toronto's suffocating defense, though it hasn't helped that the team has been beset by injuries all postseason. DeMarcus Cousins is shaking off the rust after a long injury layoff, Klay Thompson is battling through his own injury issues and Kevon Looney is missing time. 

Even if Durant returns, he'll likely do so at less than 100 percent and will have his own rust to shake off. But he'd be a much-needed offensive weapon for the Warriors—and one capable of creating his own shot against just about any defender, even Leonard. 

The broader conversation regarding Durant remains his future, and whether it will be with the Warriors.

If he's unable to return and the Warriors lose the series, will Durant choose to run it back with the Warriors and reassert dominance over the NBA? If he returns to the series and the Warriors win three straight games with him, would he be more likely to leave the Warriors, content that he's proved he wasn't carried to his titles with Golden State and was the team's most important player all along?

Or will Durant's decision be completely disconnected from the outcome of this series? 

The balance of power in the NBA will be shaped by the answers to those questions. For now, however, Durant and the Warriors will simply hope he's able to return Monday night.