“Yes, there is somebody to blame. The Golden State Warriors for putting K.D. out there. Listen, that was not right.”
That’s what Barkley said Tuesday on ESPN’s Get Up after the Warriors were able to stave off elimination despite losing their superstar forward.
Durant hadn’t played since straining his right calf on May 8 during a Game 5 showdown with the Houston Rockets in Golden State’s second-round series. However, with his team facing elimination for the first time since the 2018 Western Conference Final, the four-time NBA scoring champion put his health on the line to help out despite being nowhere close to 100 per cent.
“I blame the Warriors for K.D. getting hurt and I don’t care what they say about it,” Barkley said. “They shouldn’t have put that man out there. You know how I know it? ‘Cause he blew out his Achilles.”
Warriors general manager Bob Myers, fighting back tears while talking about Durant’s injury, confirmed following the game that No. 35 injured his right Achilles. At the time, the extent of the injury was not known but the outlook wasn’t positive. An MRI was scheduled for Tuesday.
“Prior to coming back he went through four weeks with our medical team and it was thorough, and it was experts and multiple MRIs and multiple doctors, and we felt good about the process,” Myers explained. “He was cleared to play tonight. That was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, but I understand in this world, and if you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department.”
Even in his limited capacity, Durant was effective on the floor in his 12 minutes of playing time. The reigning back-to-back Finals MVP went 3-for-3 from three-point range and 2-for-2 from the line prior to sustaining the injury.
Durant has a player option for the 2019-20 season, but he – along with Kawhi Leonard – is expected to be the NBA’s premier free agent this summer. Depending on the severity of Durant’s injury, and the duration of his recovery, it could have a domino effect on the off-season.
“I don’t think you can ever leave it up to a player because players always want to play,” Barkley added. “I think if you ask any rational player…to put a guy who hadn’t played basketball in over a month into Game 5 of the Finals and have some type of move-around the day before, I don’t think that’s fair to that man, and you saw the result.
“It’s just not fair.”