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Kevin Durant’s Home Debut Ends During Warmups

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Suns got the version of Kevin Durant they paid for. Out since Jan. 9 with an MCL sprain, and traded to Phoenix in the interim, KD returned to the floor last week. In three road games, he posted delirious numbers: 27 points a game on 81 percent true shooting, admittedly against crap teams like the Hornets, Bulls, and (sorry) Mavericks. On Sunday, Durant iced a win over recent headache Kyrie Irving with his usual fare: a pullup jumper from 13 feet, heavily contested in theory but uncontestable in practice.

Durant's fit within the Suns looked clean, despite some unfamiliarity with his new surroundings. “I feel like a couple plays I didn’t know,’’ he said Tuesday. “With practice time, it will only help. I'm getting there." Devin Booker thrived off his new teammate's gravity, averaging an efficient 36 points in those three games, and the Suns seemed bound to pass up the waylaid Grizzlies for the third seed in the West.

Morosely, now: The Suns got the version of Kevin Durant they paid for. On Wednesday, he was supposed to make his home debut against the Thunder, but during warmups, he drove towards the basket and slipped, twisting his left ankle.

After completing his warmup, Durant was ruled out for the game and fitted with a walking boot. Booker led the Suns with 44 points in a 132-101 rout of the Thunder, though the team might need to manage without their star for a while. Per the Arizona Republic, "there is concern within the organization that Durant has a grade 2 sprain, which would keep him out for between four and six weeks."

This is the story of KD's late career: peerless scoring and minimal availability. Durant, who missed the entire 2019-20 season after an Achilles repair, played in 32 games the following season and 55 last season. He's played 42 games in this current season, which may well be the final tally. The Suns, lower on depth after moving Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, will now scrape through their last 16 games and pray for a lift in the postseason. Three games into this experiment, Phoenix is already intimately familiar with its rewards and risks.

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