Monday, July 22, 2024

Durant (calf) out for USA’s friendly vs. Canada

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LAS VEGAS — Team USA will be without Kevin Durant for Wednesday night’s game against Team Canada, its first of five exhibition games ahead of the Paris Olympics, due to the calf strain that has kept Durant out of the entirety of the national team’s training camp in Sin City.

“I feel better,” Durant said after Tuesday’s practice here at UNLV. “I was working out probably about 10 days before training camp [when I got hurt].

“So, just working through it and taking it day by day.”

Durant, who will turn 36 in September, has dealt with a host of leg injuries over the past few years, missing the entire 2019-20 season with a torn right Achilles he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals and then playing totals of 35, 55 and 47 games over the next three seasons.

He played 75 games this past season for the Phoenix Suns, averaging 27.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists, and is expected to be a key contributor to this year’s loaded Team USA squad, with Durant in line to win a record-setting fourth gold medal if he and Team USA achieve their ultimate goals.

He won’t be part of the exhibition opener against Team Canada, however, in what is the first game between the two teams since Canada beat Team USA in the bronze medal game of last year’s FIBA World Cup.

“He’s already doing on the side, so not with the team, but strengthening, treatment,” Team USA coach Steve Kerr said. “So he said he’s feeling pretty good. We’ll just keep taking it day by day. It won’t be long before he’s out on the court with us.”

Durant said he “hoped” to be back on the court for the Abu Dhabi portion of the exhibition schedule, which includes games against Australia on July 15 and Serbia — Team USA’s opening opponent in the Olympics — on July 17.

While it’s expected that Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Joel Embiid will take up three of the five spots in Kerr’s starting lineup, the other two — particularly with Durant’s injury — could go in a variety of ways, with Anthony Edwards, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum all possible options to fill them.

But after a light final practice Tuesday — and after Duke commit Cooper Flagg wowed observers with his play for the select team in scrimmage action Monday afternoon — Kerr said he expects only Durant to be unavailable to play in what will be an immediate test of this team’s capabilities against a Canadian team seen as a threat to medal in Paris.

“All we did was a walkthrough today, pretty much,” Kerr said. “You saw the end of it. No live contact today. So everybody should be good to go tomorrow. You know, I’ve got to talk to the training staff. There’s some bumps and bruises, but I don’t anticipate anything major.”

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