OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Thunder star Kevin Durant had bone graft surgery Tuesday for a fracture in his right foot, and the team expects he'll return to basketball activities in four to six months.
The Thunder said in a statement that Durant had surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, with team medical personnel present.
The league's reigning MVP had the third operation on his foot. The first procedure was last October, and he returned to play in December with some pain.
A screw rubbing against another bone was removed in February, and Durant was expected to return in one or two weeks. The pain persisted, and Durant consulted three foot and ankle specialists. They agreed to the bone graft surgery after it was determined pain was from the rubbing, plus regression in the initial break.
Durant appeared in just 27 games this season, averaging 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Durant has been like an assistant coach throughout the ordeal. He has been animated and involved on the sideline.
''It hasn't been easy on KD, but he has really established himself as a better leader than ever, because when you're not playing, it's hard to stay locked in and engaged on the team,'' Brooks said. ''But he has done a great job of continuing to communicate with our guys and help our guys along.''
Oklahoma City is in position to reach the playoffs without Durant. Heading into Tuesday night's games, the Thunder led New Orleans by 2 1/2 games in the race for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings with 10 games left.
Brooks said he'll need Durant to motivate the team from the sideline.
''He knows the league as well as anybody on our team,'' Brooks said. ''He knows the players' tendencies as well as anybody on our team. He has to continue to relay those messages to the guys that are out there playing, because he wants nothing but success for our guys, and that's what leaders do.''
The injuries continue to pile up for the Thunder. Brooks said forward Serge Ibaka (right knee surgery), guard Andre Roberson (left ankle sprain) and forward Nick Collison (left ankle sprain) are out for Wednesday's game against Dallas. Ibaka isn't expected back during the regular season.
Guard Dion Waiters has soreness in his left foot. He sat out Tuesday's practice, but he's expected to play Wednesday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .