Kevin Durant‘s business partner/manager/friend Rich Kleiman has repeatedly shot down the idea that KD will be back this season.
Plus, from the Nets perspective, there would be a lot of risk. Do they want to take their $164 million best player, fresh off missing a season following a torn Achilles, and throw him right into the intensity of playoff basketball where the risk of injury is higher?
Still, Nets General Manager Sean Marks refuses to close that door. Marks was asked about a Durant return by Grant Chapman of Newshub in New Zealand (hat tip Hooprumors).
“That’s a $110 million question. 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.
“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.”
Allow me to translate: “Kevin Durant decides when and where Kevin Durant returns, and I’m just here holding the door open for him whenever he is ready.”
Durant does know his body best, he should have the final say on his return, in consultation with specialists. It would just be incredibly surprising to see it this season (same with Kyrie Irving, coming off shoulder surgery). The Nets have qualified for the playoffs as the seven seed, it would be difficult for Durant and Irving to step in and have the instant chemistry it would take to beat Toronto in the first round (their current matchup, but the same would apply to Boston or Milwaukee if a few regular season games are played and things shift). Expect Durant and Irving to wait until the start of next season to play, even if that is in December.
In the meantime, Durant and Irving will need to need to give a behind-the-scenes thumbs up on the hiring of Tyronn Lue or whoever becomes the next Nets head coach.