During Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant ruptured his Achilles tendon, an injury that ultimately may have cost the Golden State Warriors the NBA championship. Despite the lengthy rehab process for the injury — a process that continues to this very day — the injury didn’t stop the Brooklyn Nets from signing him to a four-year, $164 million deal last summer. And while the prevailing thought at the time was that the 2019-20 campaign would be something of a lost season for the two parties, there is new hope that Durant could actually take the court this season should the NBA resume playing games.
In speaking with the New Zealand-based Newshub, Nets GM Sean Marks refrained from closing the door on Durant’s possible return in ’19-20. However, he was careful to note that the organization has never and will never push the limits of his recovery with regards to a timeline.
“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.”
The Nets GM did note, however, that Durant was beginning to look like his old self behind the scenes before the league suspended its operations in March.
NBA basketball is currently on hiatus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as is the case with the majority of professional sports worldwide. However, many fans and players maintain hope that the ’19-20 season could still be concluded in some form or other, if even in truncated fashion. Therein lies the potential for a Durant return as continuing the season would mean that it plays out far later in the year than normal, allowing the multi-time All-Star additional rehab time.
While there’s no telling exactly what Durant would be able to provide in a potential comeback after being out of action for so long, his return could make a big impact in how the Nets acquit themselves in a playoff series. The Nets currently sit in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings; if the playoffs began from this point, they’d be tasked with facing the defending champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Although one would be hard-pressed to find somebody willing to pick the Nets as favorites in that scenario, the discussion becomes substantially less clear cut if Durant is back in the picture and performing at a level anywhere close to his norm. Last season, Durant averaged 26 points, six rebounds and six assists per contest for the Warriors.
In any case, the bigger question may be whether or not the season will actually continue. For his part, LeBron James has refuted rumors that executives are angling to cancel the season outright. Since James made his remarks on the subject, other reports have backed his claim.