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EXCLUSIVE: Top orthopedic surgeon says Kevin Durant has 'much better odds to return to 100 percent than John Wall'

Jul 24, 2019 0 comments

Nets Insider sat down with Dr. Steven Weinfeld, Chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, to discuss Kevin Durant's Achilles injury. Dr. Weinfield indicated that while rehabbing his Achilles heel is paramount, the greater challenge for Durant comes in getting his calf muscle back to full strength. The question on every Nets fans' mind is when will the ten-time All-star be able to return to the court? The team hasn't ruled him out for the entire 2019-2020 campaign just yet, but the prospect of him playing this upcoming season is still improbable, according to Dr. Weinfeld.

"I think it's unlikely that he would play this season, but I'd be pleasantly surprised if he did come back," admitted Mount Sinai's Chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery. "Certainly things you want to be clear about as a surgeon allowing an athlete to come back to play high level sport is that obviously their repair is healed enough and that their stength is where it needs to be and that's what takes the longest in an Achilles injury. It's not so much the healing of the tendon, that usually takes somewhere between 4, 5, or 6 months, but the strength of the calf muscle doesn't usually come back for about a year and sometimes even longer. So that's what keeps the high performance athlete out as long as it does because you really have to be sure their strength is as good as it can be before you let them come back."

The Nets didn't hesitate to acquire Durant via a sign-and-trade with Golden State and agreed to a 4-year, $164 million deal with the superstar during free agency. Brooklyn signed the deal knowing there was a strong likelihood that Durant won't even see the court this upcoming season. Dr. J. Martin O'Malley of Hospital for Special Surgery performed the surgery on Durant's Achilles following the catastrophic setback in Game 5 of the NBA finals and he also serves as the Nets team doctor.

Durant's familiarity and comfort level with the Nets medical staff was a major determining factor in him ultimately signing a deal to come to Brooklyn. While most critics are scoffing at the thought of Durant seeing the hardwood this upcoming season, according to Weinfeld, Durant's chances are exceedingly better than that of injured Wizards star John Wall's.

"A point guard plays a different kind of game than Kevin Durant does," noted Dr. Weinfeld. "An explosive type athlete, his demand is different than that of Kevin Durant's. You talk about odds of coming back to where he was, I think Durant's odds are better than an athlete like John Wall whose whole game is quickness and explosiveness. He [Wall] counts much more on those muscles being exactly where they need to be as opposed to a player like Durant and his style.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has already stated that Wall 'probably won't play' next year at all as the team is taking a cautious approach with its floor general. On January 8, Wall underwent surgery to repair a Haglund's deformity and a chronic Achilles tendon injury. Unfortunately for the 28-year old, he developed an infection in the incision from that surgery and the team announced he would be out at least 12-months retroactive to February. The Wizards just inked Wall to a four-year, $170 million deal that is set to begin at the start of the 2019-2020 season. Given the setback that Wall has suffered, it's reasonable to think that Durant is on the fast track back on the court compared Washington's franchise player.

While many fans don't expect to see either Wall or Durant until the 2020-2021 season, Dr. Weinfeld is confident that Durant can return to the player fans saw lead the Warriors to two championships, three straight finals appearances, and dominate the NBA as a two-time Finals MVP and a two-time league MVP.

"I think he'll probably be somewhere between 90 and 100 percent," stated Dr. Weinfeld. "That's my thought assuming everything goes smoothly and he doesn't have any setbacks, I think you can expect somehwere in the 90 to 100 percent range."

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