Jason Terry: ‘Harden Is Hands-Down MVP’

For the third time in six months, Kevin Durant will have surgery on his right foot. Sadly, the most recent procedure will cost the 26-year-old the rest of the season, as he is expected to miss four to six months.

“I was sad to hear that KD would be out for the season,” Houston Rockets guard Jason Terry said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s been sad to see them struggle this entire season with that injury. Though they are an opponent of ours, he’s a good friend, so I always wish him the best. I never wish ill-fate on any of my NBA brethren.”

Durant’s injury is a major blow to Oklahoma City (41-31), which is clinging to the eighth seed in the West.

“Have you seen anything like this NBA season?” Terry asked. “There’s been so many major injuries to so many different superstars around the league. Usually there’s a lot of guys throughout the year that get hurt, but these guys are superstars that are going down. And you wonder if they’re overtrained or if their bodies are just breaking down because of too much basketball. That’s something they’ll have to revisit as they get further in their careers.”

Terry, 37, has had great health throughout his career. The tenth overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft, he played for the Hawks, Mavericks, Celtics and Nets before joining the Rockets in 2014.

What’s been the secret to his longevity?

“One, I’m fortunate and blessed,” Terry said. “The other thing is as you age – and the age doesn’t go by your actual physical age; it goes by your games-played age, your minutes-played age. Early on in my career, we never made it to playoffs when my season was over in April. So I would play all summer just to get some extra games in and stay in condition.”

As Terry got older, though, he played for teams that made the playoffs – and then made deep runs once they got there. He even helped the Mavericks to the NBA title in 2011.

Terry adjusted his mileage accordingly.

“When summer came, I actually did more strength and conditioning and I stayed off the hardwood,” he said. “The hardwood takes a big toll on your body. As your age gets up there in league years, you may want to do less – and more less strenuous work. Swimming, golf, low-impact-type condition work.”

While Durant will miss the rest of the season because of his foot, Rockets center Dwight Howard just returned from a knee injury. Just how healthy is he right now?

“I think you’re seeing a good percent of him,” Terry said. “I won’t put an actual number on it, but his explosiveness, his ability to protect the rim right now is what we’ve been lacking – and he has that back. That was something I didn’t see from him even in training camp early on even when he was quote-unquote healthy. I think he’s had to struggle with injuries over the last two or three years of his career.

“I think this time off was much-needed,” Terry continued. “As you know for big fellas, they wear down much faster than us guards do. They take much more of a pounding. I think that time off has refreshened him.”

Terry said Howard has looked great in workouts and is jumping as he’s ever seen him jump.

“We need him,” Terry said. “We need him back there protecting the rim. He’s our anchor. And offensively, he keys everything because that pick-and-roll with James Harden, it just opens up so many things for us.”

Asked for this year’s NBA MVP, Terry didn’t hesitate.

“James Harden,” Terry said. “James Harden has played phenomenal this entire season. What he’s meant to this team without another superstar alongside of him has been key. He’s elevated the level of play of his team and he’s also came every night consistently and put up huge numbers all across the board.”

Harden is averaging 27.1 points, 7.0 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals for Houston (48-23), which is currently the third seed in the West. The Rockets host Minnesota (16-55) on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

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