Just because he could play basketball this spring for the first time in a year doesn’t mean that Kevin Durant should do it. Nevertheless, the possibility has been raised that Durant could step on the court for the Brooklyn Nets if the NBA is able to resume its season.
Kevin Durant suffered a major injury last year
Kevin Durant was finishing up his third season with the Golden State Warriors last spring when he suffered a strained right calf during the Western Conference semifinals vs. the Houston Rockets. That knocked him out of action until Game 5 of the finals vs. the Toronto Raptors, when he returned only to be lost to a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Achilles injuries are notoriously tough on the average person, let alone athletes playing in the most demanding basketball league in the world, so the expectation was the Durant was going to miss the entire 2019-20 season. That didn’t stop the Brooklyn Nets from acquiring Durant in a sign-and-trade when he opted out of the back end of his two-year contract with Golden State.
The Nets put themselves on the hook for $164.5 million over four seasons but anticipating that the first season would be a washout. That stopped looking like an absolute certainty over the winter when it was reported that Durant, 31, was far ahead of schedule in his rehab.
And then the NBA was forced to pause its regular season nearly two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.
No one is quite certain when the NBA can resume playing. Nor do we know whether the remainder of the regular season will be played out or if the league will instead proceed directly to the playoffs. But the
What are the Nets saying about Kevin Durant?
Interviewed by Newshub in New Zealand, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks didn’t dismiss the possibility of Kevin Durant returning for the postseason.
“That’s a $110 million question,” Marks said. “In all seriousness, we’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot. … He knows his body better than anybody. Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him to this point, but I just don’t know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.”
Tremendous job or not, Marks says Durant will have to be 100% before stepping on the court for a real game.
The case against letting him play
Having Kevin Durant in the lineup would give a boost to the Brooklyn Nets, but to what end? The Brooklyn Nets are 30-34 and half a game ahead of the Orlando Magic for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Washington Wizards or Charlotte Hornets aren’t likely to bump the Nets out of the postseason.
However, the Nets’ opponents in the first two rounds would likely come from the group of the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics. Even if Brooklyn gets past the first round, how likely are the Nets to get past the second?
Durant becomes the Nets’ best forward the moment he steps back onto the court, but he’s unlikely to make enough of a difference. On the other hand, an injury – even if it isn’t related to the Achilles – would result in second-guessing that might cause heads to roll if
Durant misses the start of next season. Durant hasn’t commented on the possibility of playing, but his agent called the prospect of his early return “unrealistic” last month.