NBA Rumor: Kevin Durant Injury

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“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.”

“From my standpoint, no,” Kleiman said. “I think it’s unrealistic. That’s just my view on it. We haven’t gotten deep into the 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 in a real serious manner without any information on the season. It still feels there’s such uncertainty day to day. Outside of just the NBA, the whole thing just feels too unrealistic from my standpoint.”

“I think he’s always been in the smallest group – one, two, three, at most – of the top players in the league in people’s minds,” Kleiman said. “Obviously, I’m biased. But I think he’ll be better, to be honest. His game has never been completely reliant on athletic ability, though he’s got incredible athletic ability. His skill set is off the charts in terms of just scouting, and his intelligence for the game is at an all-time high…Having a year off and watching so much film and you saw how close he was to the team, I mean, he’s a hoop junkie. I think maybe you’ll see just a new version.”

Sirius XM NBA: “It’s also hard to even discuss in a real serious manner without any information on the season” Kevin Durant’s business partner @richkleiman tells @Frank Isola & Wes Wilcox he still doesn’t think we’ll see @Kevin Durant on the court if the season resumes this summer. #WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/rh0DmtxbLw

But the coronavirus hiatus may just have opened a window of opportunity for Durant in particular, if the schedule now continues deep into the year. “That’s a $110m question,” chuckles Marks. “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.

Nets veteran Garrett Temple said he played three-on-three with Durant in Los Angeles on March 11, the day after the team’s most recent game. Like Pinson, Temple struggled to stop Durant — which was a good thing. “The places he scores from, he’s very efficient in the way that he scores and the shots that he takes, even in there-on-three,” Temple told The Athletic in a telephone interview last week. “It really isn’t much different what he does in three-on-three than he does in five-on-five. He assesses the defense and goes from there.”

Kevin Durant’s manager threw more cold water on the idea of the injured Nets superstar returning if and when the NBA season resumes. The season getting suspended on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic has sparked persistent speculation that the added time would allow Durant to recover from his Achilles surgery. But Rich Kleiman reiterated that it’s so “unrealistic” that he’s never even discussed it with Durant. “I promise you, Kevin and I have not talked about that. And I know it sounds crazy, but my assumption has been that that wasn’t very realistic,” Kleiman told Sports Illustrated. “It’s just not…I know when the time will be right to have that conversation; but it just hasn’t been that time and it just doesn’t feel like it’s needed.”

Prompted by a question from Kay about the possibility of a Durant return when the season resumes — say in June — Eagle speculated: “Durant and his people have downplayed it. Obviously, Kevin right now, the focus, after his positive test for coronavirus, clearly it’s just all about health. But yeah, you allow your mind to wander a bit. Whether or not Durant, from those little video snippets that we’ve seen, he looks good. He looks like himself. He looks like a player that could step in and play today.”

Adrian Wojnarowski: Obviously, people have talked about Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. I’ve been told that that is not an expectation of him coming back, although I heard he’s looked pretty good over there that the plan was not to do that. Because remember, you’d come back, you’d have a pretty short turnaround, no matter what you do, from the end of this season to next season, and they’re going to be careful with him now. Could that change? I guess it could change but right now, the next plan is to not bring Kevin Durant back.

The possibility of a summer return for the NBA season has led to speculation that injured superstar Kevin Durant could rejoin the Brooklyn Nets in time for their postseason push. But Durant’s longtime business partner Rich Kleiman tamped down expectations for the former MVP on Monday morning, telling Golic & Wingo that hopes of Durant playing in June or July are “not very realistic.” “Honestly, not very realistic from my standpoint, and not even spoken about,” Kleiman said.

Even so, Kleiman said he expects Durant, who has done only a handful of media interviews this season, to reclaim his spot among the NBA’s top talents. “I have no question he’ll be back better than ever,” Kleiman said. “By next season, I expect nothing but KD. Great things will happen. Injuries are a part of the game, and it’s obviously been a bit frustrating. The Nets are still in playoff position. The players are developing and getting better. I expect things to pick up. Everyone knows what [Durant and Irving] can do when they’re playing and healthy.”

Durant hasn’t been traveling with the Nets on road games, and neither has Irving since getting hurt on a West Coast road trip in November. Kenny Atkinson — who insists there’s no danger of detachment from the team — said that’s not going to change as long as their rehab is better served at home. But he said that could change eventually. “No, we’re around them enough. I always hark back to the priority’s got to be what’s best for them from a rehab standpoint. That overrides everything,” Atkinson said. “And sometimes they want to come, and we’re like ‘No, you need to be on the AlterG at home.’

Kevin Durant rules out return this year

One day after his mother, Wanda, was seen on TODAY saying, “I know he’s not going to play this year,” Durant told Rooks the same thing. It was his most definitive statement on the subject of his return. When Rooks asked KD if there was any chance he’s coming back this season, Durant first responded, “No, I don’t think so,. Not for now,” Rooks demanded and got a definiite answer. “NO! No. The best thing for me is to continue the rehab, get as strong as I can and focus on next season,” he said, after admitting he’s itching to play.

“Well I know he’s not going to play this year,” Mrs. Durant told TODAY, continuing, “Which I’m glad because he doesn’t have the pressure. It’s bittersweet because I see a calmness in him even in this (rehab). Because he was injured before and he was frantic. “I’m not saying he doesn’t want to play. Of course he wants to play and play with his teammates, but he’s accepted the fact that this is not the time for him to play and he’s going through the process of healing. And he’s growing as a person.”

Kevin Durant, now 31, is out with a torn Achilles. The Nets owe him $164,255,700 over the next four years. John Wall, now 29, is out with a torn Achilles. The Wizards owe him $171,131,520 over the next four years. Yet, Brooklyn is viewed to have a bright future in large part due to Durant. Washington is viewed to have a grim outlook in large part due to Wall. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis called out the dichotomy. Leonsis on The Habershow: “Why is everyone so positive – Kevin Durant has the same injury as John Wall and is older.”

Kevin Durant says he's not coming back this season

Asked by Stephen A. Smith if he completely ruled out the possibility he could play this season, Durant said “yes,” and replied “I don’t plan on it” to a quick follow-up. The Nets last month tried to douse talk of a Durant return, with GM Sean Marks saying the team isn’t planning on Durant playing. But Marks did add that “ultimately Kevin will have a large say in when he comes back and how he’s feeling.”

The Nets won’t push Durant but there is always the chance Durant could push the Nets. The normal recovery time for his injury is six to eight months. Durant could, in theory, make his Nets debut in March. Dr. Fred Cushner, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery who has dealt with NBA players for two decades, told The Athletic that while Durant’s ligament “will heal in six months, that’s only part of the picture because he has to get his strength back and be in game shape.”

Though Nets GM Sean Marks refused to rule Durant out for the season, the feeling within the league is trending toward him potentially playing this season. “I know KD is taking the rehab process ultra-serious. He wants to come back as soon as it’s appropriate, and healthy and the right decision for him, and then also subsequently that would also be the right decision for,” said Dinwiddie, who points out that even a slightly-diminished Durant could still be a superstar. “The beautiful part about this is, the man is 7-foot and one of the best shooters of all time. At worst you get Dirk [Nowitzki], and Dirk was a monster. So we’re ready for him to come back whenever he wants to and whenever he’s ready to do so, and we know that he’s going to be a phenomenal major piece of our roster.”

Kevin Durant back this season?

Though Nets GM Sean Marks refused to rule Durant out for the season, the feeling within the league is trending toward him potentially playing this season. “I know KD is taking the rehab process ultra-serious. He wants to come back as soon as it’s appropriate, and healthy and the right decision for him, and then also subsequently that would also be the right decision for,” said Dinwiddie, who points out that even a slightly-diminished Durant could still be a superstar.

“The beautiful part about this is, the man is 7-foot and one of the best shooters of all time. At worst you get Dirk [Nowitzki], and Dirk was a monster. So we’re ready for him to come back whenever he wants to and whenever he’s ready to do so, and we know that he’s going to be a phenomenal major piece of our roster.” New Nets CEO David Levy told The Post that Durant’s comeback is something the team could even chronicle. “When you start thinking about the Kevin Durant comeback story and filming that, just opportunities,” Levy said.

John Wall: I don’t like to talk about other team doctors or whatever, but if you watched Kevin, the whole time before he played that Game 5, if you watch where he was icing at, or when he had his injury, I know what a calf strain is like. I know what an Achilles injury is like. When you look back like that, I knew it was an Achilles injury from the start. I can’t diagnose what those doctors said. But if you look where he was icing his leg, it was the Achilles the whole time. I had a teammate, Sheldon Mac, that tore his Achilles the same way and once he made that same move, I knew exactly what it was. I talk to Kevin all the time. We’re great friends. He’s doing great. He’s taking his time, I guess. I don’t know. I just wish him the best. He’s one of those guys, if he has the Achilles or not, it’s not going to affect him, I feel, because he can score at all levels.

Kevin Durant seems to be making great progress — because the NBA superstar was out in Los Angeles on Wednesday … cruisin’ around the restaurant scene WITHOUT crutches! Remember, Durant tore his right Achilles on June 12 during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals … but the recovery is expected to be so tough, he could miss the entire 2019-20 season. Which is why we were so impressed when we saw KD walking out of Catch restaurant in L.A. — sure, there was a little hitch in his giddy up … but overall, he was moving pretty well.

Now Jordan is talking about not only his new team, but also his old friend — and how Durant is recovering from his ruptured Achilles, arguably the most-watched body part in New York City. “We’ve got a lot of talent on this team,” Jordan told Gothamist during a promotional event Wednesday at a Dunkin’ in Midtown Manhattan. “You know obviously Kevin had a tough injury, he’s going to be out for a while, but he’s progressing great, he’s recovering fast, we’ll be even better when we get him back and healthy.”

Durant’s familiarity and comfort level with the Nets medical staff was a major determining factor in him ultimately signing a deal to come to Brooklyn. While most critics are scoffing at the thought of Durant seeing the hardwood this upcoming season, according to Weinfeld, Durant’s chances are exceedingly better than that of injured Wizards star John Wall’s. “A point guard plays a different kind of game than Kevin Durant does,” noted Dr. Weinfeld. “An explosive type athlete, his demand is different than that of Kevin Durant’s. You talk about odds of coming back to where he was, I think Durant’s odds are better than an athlete like John Wall whose whole game is quickness and explosiveness. He [Wall] counts much more on those muscles being exactly where they need to be as opposed to a player like Durant and his style.
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January 18, 2021 | 12:17 pm EST Update

Cavs to trade or waive Kevin Porter

Cavaliers guard Kevin Porter Jr. is expected to be traded or released following an outburst Friday in the Cavs locker room, The Athletic has learned from several sources with direct knowledge of the events. Porter, 20, who has not played this season due to personal issues, grew angry when he entered the locker room and realized the team gave his old locker to Taurean Prince, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade Wednesday. Sources said Porter, whose locker was moved to the wall where the younger, end-of-bench players reside, began yelling and at one point threw food.
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Sources said Porter, whose locker was moved to the wall where the younger, end-of-bench players reside, began yelling and at one point threw food. Sources said general manager Koby Altman came into the locker room and confronted Porter, and the player remained combative with his boss. The Cavs spent the weekend trying to trade him. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff heard the commotion in the locker room from his office and came in, shocked and disgusted by what he heard.
A grand jury declined to indict Porter on a felony weapons charge after he was able to prove he didn’t know the gun was in the car. Police also determined he was not impaired at the time of the accident. A judge dismissed the misdemeanor pot charge. In October, Porter raised alarms when he posted a black square on his Instagram with the message “Do you ever wish to see the end of your time?” After Cavs officials and teammates reached out, Porter deleted his Instagram account.
So, even though Harden was the one who essentially forced his way out of Houston, he still felt deep appreciation for the city that helped shape his NBA career. And on Monday, he finally came around to thanking Houston. In a series of tweets, Harden wrote that he will be “forever indebted” to the city of Houston for supporting him with the Rockets. He acknowledged that he fell short of his goal of bringing the city a title but went on to thank Houston for everything.
January 18, 2021 | 11:11 am EST Update

Rockets want three second-round picks for PJ Tucker?

People around the league wonder what Rockets general manager Rafael Stone will do next following the Harden blockbuster. As I reported last week, Victor Oladipo, an impending free agent, has eyes for Miami. Could the Heat, or another team looking to contend—such as the Nuggets or Celtics—try to acquire him? And how about P.J. Tucker? Numerous teams have already inquired about the stout versatile defender, and league sources say Houston is currently demanding three second-round draft picks for the upcoming unrestricted free agent.
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But don’t be surprised if there are more trades on the horizon for the Nets. According to Brian Windhorst, one such player who could be on the move is 23-year-old combo guard Landry Shamet (via ESPN): “I don’t know what sort of trade value that they have left on their roster. I talked to two different teams that the Nets offered Landry Shamet to in the last week, attempting to get a first-round pick. They were trying to keep Jarrett Allen, as you can imagine. So to get the fourth first-round pick, they were trying to find a team that would give them anything and so they shopped Landry Shamet pretty hard, from what I understand.”
Brooklyn acquired Shamet from the Clippers as part of a three-teamtrade that occurred on the night of the 2020 NBA draft. The sharpshooter projected as an ideal fit for the Nets considering how many open looks he would get on the floor alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Shamet is a shooting specialist who does not provide a ton of extra value as a playmaker or on defense. But he is currently averaging a career-worst 5.4 points per game. Similarly, his three-pointers per game (1.1) and three-point percentage (30.6 percent) are both the lowest marks of his career. Meanwhile, he is down from 27.4 minutes per game last season to just 17.6 minutes per game so far in 2020-21.