Since the Brooklyn Nets made the big splash moves of landing All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the conversation has been on the health of the latter as he works his way back from a torn Achilles. This has brought to the forefront questions that Durant could possibly be on the court at some point in the 2019-20 campaign rather than if he can return to being the same player. The Nets have quickly stepped in to address the matter.
Kevin Durant makes the move to Brooklyn
Following months of anticipation, Durant made the decision to leave the Golden State Warriors in free agency to join Irving with the Nets on a four-year, $164.2 million max deal.
The 30-year-old is set to take the next chapter of his career after an impressive three-year run with the Warriors, helping guide them to three straight NBA Finals appearances while winning two of those trips behind a pair of Finals MVP awards. Durant played some of the best basketball of his career, elevating his game to the next level averaging 25.8 points on 52.4 percent shooting from the floor with 7.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists per contest.
He now heads to the Nets, where he will play in the Eastern Conference for the first time in his career. However, he is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals that will likely have him sidelined for at least the upcoming season.
The next step in the process shifts to focusing on getting back to full strength from what may be a career-altering injury.
Nets utilizing long-term approach with Kevin Durant
The presumed assumption around Durant since he suffered the injury is that he would miss the entire 2019-20 campaign as it typically takes around a year to fully heal.
However, Brian Lewis of the New York Post fueled the talk last week that there was some “growing sentiment” that he could return next season. Nets general manager Sean Marks has moved quickly to silence that conversation. (h/t Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News)
“With Kevin, I think what we’re going to say is the expectations are that he’ll be out for the year. We’re not going to plan on him playing,” Marks said. “His rehab will obviously be predetermined by over the course of the next few months, how it goes, with our performance team and so forth, but ultimately Kevin will have the final say when he comes back and how he’s feeling. But the expectation now for him to be out for the year.”
Marks also indicated that Durant has been progressing well in his rehab, but the team’s vision remains on the long-term approach. There is no rush from the organization to get him back on the court sooner than he should be and need him to be healthy if there’s any chance for Brooklyn to be great.
Nets are properly handling Kevin Durant’s injury
It was established from the get-go that Durant would miss his entire first season with the Nets. He’s recovering from an injury that has altered the course of the careers of several marquee players before him such as Isiah Thomas, Kobe Bryant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Elton Brand.
Durant may have a strong desire to prove that he can be the same player or even better, but there is a right and wrong way to go about it. Keep in mind, he had a first-hand view of this scenario going south with Cousins as he returned last January just shy of a year removed from when the injury occurred.
The star big man suffered a torn quad in the first round of the playoffs, then a torn ACL during a summer pickup game that cost him the entire 2019-20 season. Cousins has now drawn an injury-prone label that places serious questions around his NBA future.
The Nets clearly have plenty of eggs in the basket with Durant and Irving leading the team to contend for championships. This alone is more than enough reason for Brookly to take this route with this situation.