“Kevin Durant’s not coming back to the Nets this year if they play,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast. “That’s not happening. They’re not playing him.”
Durant has long been expected to miss the entire season while recovering from an Achilles rupture suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. However, with the play indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, there has been some speculation Durant could return for a playoff run.
Marks incited even more speculation when he wouldn’t rule out KD returning in an interview with Grant Chapman of NewsHub.
“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.
“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.”
Given the overwhelmingly negative history of NBA players returning from Achilles injuries, it would make sense that the Nets handle Durant’s rehab with as much care as possible. The Nets need Durant back to as close to 100 percent of his former self as they can to contend for a championship.
Kyrie Irving’s run in Boston and his short-lived stint as the leader of this year’s Nets offer strong evidence he can’t be the best player on a championship team. Brooklyn needs the version of Durant who was seemingly coming into his own as the best player in the world.
Returning during the pandemic, when the NBA will likely have to condense its schedule to get as many games in as possible, could put Durant at greater risk of re-injury. Doing so and throwing him into the deep end of playoff basketball is an even riskier strategy.
By TYLER CONWAY