NBA Rumor: Kevin Durant Injury

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Kevin Durant’s latest return is imminent. The oft-injured superstar is considered “very possible” to resurface in the two-game homestand beginning Friday, according to Nets coach Steve Nash. Durant, 32, missed his second straight game with a quad contusion Wednesday in Tampa Bay – temporary home of the Raptors – and has only played in six of the last 35 games. “He is day-to-day, so I think Friday (against the Celtics) or Sunday (against the Suns) are very possible,” Nash said. “I’m not sure when it would be or if it would be either of those games, but he is day-to-day, so if he keeps progressing at this rate, I think Friday or Sunday are very possible.”

Kevin Durant likely not playing this week

Kevin Durant will not play against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, and Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said he doubts Durant will play this week as he continues to rehab from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him for a month and a half. Nash said Sunday that Durant “looks good” and “is progressing” but “still needs to be monitored and still needs to get a certain amount of markers under his belt” before he returns to game action.

Kevin Durant to still serve as All-Star captain

The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.

“Yeah, I do,” said Nash. “But again, we’re just trying to monitor and be cautious. We definitely have kind of slowed things down in that respect — not putting any pressure on him, not trying to rush him back in any capacity and just make sure that we give him the right amount of time to be more than healed, to be strong and conditioned to come back to the team. “So we’re monitoring it. We’re not in a rush. But I don’t think he’ll be out until the All-Star break.”

Dave Hancock’s days with Durant included 90 minutes of tedious morning treatment, a gym workout, 90 minutes of exhausting afternoon treatment and evening poolwork. They ordered an antigravity treadmill. They strapped him with biosensors as they replicated the mechanics of his favorite moves. They focused on his entire body, “from his neck to his toe,” Hancock said, as O’Malley watched by FaceTime. Everything they did was meant to prevent the Achilles from stretching. A long tendon is a weak tendon. They had to keep it tight. But for all the resources they poured into a few inches of tissue worth a few hundred million dollars, his British housemate said the key to Durant’s rehab was an unpredictable element that varies by patient. “A lot of this, in my experience, is hard bloody work,” Hancock said.

“This is tough for me to actually put a number on. It’s really hard. But he’s in the 90s, for sure. Whether it’s 90 or 99, I don’t know,” Nash said about Durant on a Zoom call with reporters Sunday. “But I keep trying to tell him that he’s got to give himself 15, 20 games before he starts judging himself. Sometimes, they say the amount of time you have off takes you that much time once you’re back to feel like yourself. “He’s done absolutely everything we could ask, but there’s no way to finalize what he is, who he is post-injury without playing NBA games. You can’t recreate it, you can’t simulate it, and you can’t replace it. So he’s going to go through this process, play some games, and before long — if we’re fortunate enough with his health and all the things he’s put into this — he’s going to be 100% Kevin Durant, no question.”

All of this is already on display, in the opening seconds of their first training camp together. People who have seen them work out or play pick-up rave about how good Durant and Irving look, physically. The Nets are already conceding they must approach the season with caution in terms of managing the two players’ health. And there have already been, let’s not call them controversies, because neither episode really rises to the level, but two things that have happened involving Durant and Irving that could put a head coach, or a general manager, or a teammate (several teammates, if you count how many guys Sean Marks would have to trade to bring Harden to Brooklyn) in an uncomfortable position.

Nobody knows for sure what the Nets star will look like. But between Durant’s positive headspace, specialists who spoke with The Post and WNBA star Breanna Stewart’s dominant return from her own similar injury, the signs bode well. All point to Brooklyn getting the same superstar version of Durant it signed up for. “He’s not an old guy, 36, 37 towards the end of his career,” said Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of the division of sports medicine at NYU Langone Sports Health. “I don’t think it’s like that in him. He’ll do just fine. I don’t see any issue to say he won’t be as good of a player as he was a year-and-a-half ago,”

Before the NBA season was suspended, Durant was playing in games of three-on-four and four-on-four with the Nets’ “extra work group” while he rehabbed his Achilles injury. Guard Theo Pinson, who was part of those sessions, said Durant was “unguardable,” and general manager Sean Marks said Durant “looked like Kevin Durant” when he observed him. Cannady said his observations from this summer mirror those. “I can confirm what all those guys said,” Cannady said. “He’s one of the most talented, special players I’ve ever seen in person. He looks healthy. He looks extremely good.”

Kevin Durant fully healthy from his injury

Now a member of the Brooklyn Nets after signing a max contract last summer, Durant said on Wednesday that he’s fully healthy and will be ready to play when the 2020-21 NBA season begins, whenever that may be. “Yeah, I’m feeling fine. I can’t wait to get out there and play with my teammates,” Durant said Wednesday during the Washington Football Team’s ‘Welcome Home Luncheon,’ where he appeared as a guest. “Playing in Brooklyn, I’m excited. I can’t wait for the new NBA season,” Durant said.

Kevin Durant spoke with WNBA players Breanna Stewart and Kelsey Plum on the “Stewie’s World” podcast Tuesday about a lot of things but mostly where he is on his return to play after COVID-19 short-circuited his rehab. “I’ve been playing 3-on-3’s for like three months,” he told the two who like him have both suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. “Four times a week. Next phase is to playing more 5-on-5. I was doing it before the pandemic but now it’s hard to get 10 guys on the court during COVID so I think that the next step is to get some good runs in the next couple of months, couple of weeks.” And, he noted about next season, “whenever they come, you’ve got to be ready.”

KD spoke as well about how much he appreciates things now, even in solitary settings. “I just appreciate being in the gym, the workouts, the 1-on-1 sessions because of the injury. Now, I just appreciate just being in there with the other guys. I miss, you know, the whole routine. “So doing it now every single day, I have a newfound, evolved level of joy for it. I feel like I’m growing every day I feel I’m having a kid-like joy every time I step on that court. That’s all I really wanted to have, to continue to have,” he told The Corp. “I didn’t want to lose the love for the game because of an injury. It this point now, I just enjoy waking up and getting to the gym every day.”

Durant ruptured his Achilles during the NBA Finals then underwent surgery on June 12. With the NBA returning on July 31, it’ll be a little more than 13 months since his surgery. Durant, his agent/manager Rich Kleiman and Sean Marks have repeatedly said throughout the season and the NBA stoppage that a return was unlikely. Speculation grew as the stoppage continued then as the league moved quickly on its comeback, but sources believe the Nets are sticking with their original plan to keep him out for the season.

So did NBA commissioner Adam Silver in an interview with Turner Sports “Inside the NBA” on Thursday, telling panelist Charles Barkley he didn’t think it was unfair that players who sustained what were thought to be season-ending injuries to come back when the season restarts. “We’re gonna allow it,” Silver said. “And I’d only say, Charles, that this has been the back-and-forth with our teams. There’s so much here that’s not fair, and we’re choosing among multiple bad alternatives given the (coronavirus) pandemic we’re dealing with. … I think, ultimately, to the extent a team has a healthy roster and those players are able to come back, they are eligible to play.”

Net teammate: Kevin Durant not returning this season

Spencer Dinwiddie understands that expectations are raised to championship if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving return for the Orlando playoffs. But the Nets guard is unsure what his star teammates will decide. “That’s the billion dollar question. But that’s not something I can answer,” Dinwiddie said Wednesday morning on ESPN’s “First Take.” “I know they’re both working really hard. They’re two of the hardest working in the NBA on the court, and two phenomenal players. If they are able to return and that’s the decision they make, our aspirations turn from playoffs to championship. “If they’re not able to return, which they’ve pretty much said that’s kind of the stance that they’re taking, we still want to be a team that grinds to get to the playoffs and makes a run in the playoffs. But we also understand the talent they add with being two of the top-10 players in the league and KD being, in my opinion, the greatest scorer of all time.”

Speaking to second New Zealand outlet in the past few weeks, Marks praised Durant’s physical condition, but gave the indication a return for the 2020 playoffs wasn’t in the cards. “I can tell you now he looks pretty darn good and I’m excited about him on the floor at Barclays in front of that fan base,’’ Marks said on Sky Sport NZ’s “The Pod” podcast. “But how do they mesh? How do they all play together? That’s the chess game, the intricacies of what a coaching staff does, what the management group does to put the right pieces around them.’’

Durant’s return for the playoffs would be a delicious, inspirational treat to hungry New York basketball fans — and the NBA — but he’d probably have to play limited minutes and without Irving. The Nets are the seventh seed in the East. “That’s what these guys are fighting for now,’’ Marks told the podcast. “If you talk to Kevin and Ky, they’ve both won —Kevin’s won two championships, Ky’s won a championship — so now, it’s how do we make this ours, how do we take this to the next level and who do we do it with? That’s a big part of their decisions.”

The injury sidelined him for the entirety of this season, and he was one of four Brooklyn Nets players to contract the novel coronavirus back in March. The 10-time all-star is not expected to play for the Nets if the NBA resumes this summer. “I’m alive,” said Durant, who was asymptomatic when he tested positive. “That’s it. That’s all I can tell you. I’m good. The unknown is always scary, but I had a lot of support. I knew if I needed anything, I could call someone. [As a society], we still haven’t figured this whole thing out, but having more information by the day helps.”

Kevin Durant: I'll be back when it's time

Speaking on Lil Wayne’s Young Money Radio on Tuesday, Durant addressed the possibility of a return if the NBA picks up its season and playoffs in mid-July. Last week Nets GM Sean Marks told a New Zealand news outlet a Durant return was not out of play, calling it “the $110 million question.” “It is what it is man. Everybody waiting on me to come back,” Durant said Tuesday on the show. “A lot of emotions involved. So I get it. I understand the business now. But I’ll be back when it’s time.”

Nets general manager Sean Marks fed that fire earlier this month when he seemed to indicate it was possible during an interview with the New Zealand media outlet, Newshub. “That’s a $110 million question,” Marks, whose team is currently in seventh place in the East, said in the interview. “When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back. When the timing is right, he’ll be 100 percent when he gets on the court. … I can tell you this though: Before the pandemic, he looked like Kevin Durant and that’s a good thing.”

Kleiman reiterated that stance earlier this week in an interview on SiriusXM Radio, when asked by host Frank Isola if there was a chance Durant would play this season if the year resumed in July. “From my standpoint, no, I think it’s unrealistic. That’s just my view on it,” Kleiman said to Isola and co-host Wes Wilcox. “Again, we haven’t gone deep into conversation about it because of how unrealistic it all seems to me. I figure that if something changed, he would tell me. And it’s also hard to even discuss (a potential return this season) in a real serious manner without any information on the season. (There is) such uncertainty day to day — as we all (feel), outside of just the NBA — that the whole thing just feels too unrealistic from my standpoint.”
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