OKLAHOMA CITY -- The door swung open, and Kevin Durant rolled in -- literally, on a scooter -- to speak with the media for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot.
"It's definitely a different experience for me," Durant said Tuesday. "I've never been injured before, but the Thunder's been great to get me to the best surgeon, and rehab has been going well so far. Everything is progressing, and I'm looking forward to these next few weeks of getting better."
Durant, 26, is taking an optimistic view, looking at the injury as an opportunity for teammates to develop, while also using it to grow his own leadership skills.
"I feel like Nick Saban, just rolling around in my scooter from court to court giving advice and trying to help out as much as I can," he said. "I'm looking at the positive side of it. It's a win-win, basically, because I'm learning a lot while I'm out about the game, and my teammates are getting lots of opportunities because there are a lot of minutes out there to help the team."
The primary opportunity will fall to All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who missed 36 games last season himself because of a knee issue following surgery to repair a torn meniscus. During Westbrook's absence, Durant elevated his game to new heights, carrying the Thunder to a 20-7 record from Christmas to the All-Star break, which helped him secure his first MVP award.
"Nothing has to change," Durant said of Westbrook. "Just stay who he is and continue to play the way he plays, and everybody is going to follow. He's going to do a great job. I'm not worried about Russ.
"[He] may get more opportunities now, but you don't have to change what you do. He knows that. He's a smart player. He knows we all have to do it as a team, and it's going to be fun. I'm excited to see the team play."
Durant is set to be re-evaluated in a little more than five weeks but said he's in no hurry to return to the floor.
"I'm not going to rush it all. That's the one thing I don't want to do," he said. "I'm sure I'll feel better in two or three weeks, but definitely don't want to rush it and wind up hurting it even more. I'm taking my time with it. I'm just blessed it happened early in the season where I can get past it, and hopefully by December I'll be ready to play."
Durant noticed some aching in his right foot Oct. 11, alerting Thunder medical personnel of the issue. It was determined Durant has a broken bone at the base of small toe, which required having a screw inserted to reconnect the bones. Durant underwent surgery Friday in North Carolina.
"It was unexpected but going through so much in my life already, I knew this was a bump in the road I had to get past, and it's really all good, to be honest," Durant said. "If I would've kept playing on it with no surgery, it could get worse."
Durant averaged 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 81 games last season and has played the most minutes in the league since 2007 (20,717).
Because of his incredible workload, Durant withdrew his name from USA Basketball this summer for the World Cup in Spain, citing need for rest both physically and mentally. With the additional rest he'll have by missing at least the first month of the season, Durant was asked if that may leave him more rested for the postseason.
"I'm always one of those guys that has to play a lot to be in shape, in order for me to feel great. So I don't know," he said. "This is new and different for me, so we'll see how I feel."
Durant has missed only 16 games during his seven-year career, mostly to minor injuries such as sprained ankles. He'd never had surgery on anything, so it's uncharted territory for the noted basketball junkie to have to sit and watch. Unable to put any weight on the foot, Durant even said he's been taking shots sitting in a chair.
"I've been antsy since I came out of surgery. I seen that Cleveland and Chicago game last night, and I wanted to get out there and play," he said. "But as a competitor, I just love to play basketball. That's all I've been doing, and injuries have never had me out this long, but it's part of the game, and I understand that."