Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee on January 15 against the New Orleans Pelicans and has been on the shelf ever since.
The Nets have struggled in Durant’s absence, posting a 4-12 record since the two-time Finals MVP got injured.
Durant won’t play in the 2022 All-Star Game, missing his second straight All-Star weekend. The one-time MVP has been making steady progress in his recovery and the Nets are certainly hoping he can play in their first game post-All-Star break versus the Boston Celtics on February 24.
However, Nets head coach Steve Nash said the franchise is going to be “really careful” with Durant.
Nash on Durant’s Return: ‘We Want to Be Really Careful’
Nash told Nets reporters that Durant won’t be rushed back despite the team being in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
“I’m not like, ‘He’s going to play right when the break ends.’ There’s obviously a small chance, but we want to be really careful because a setback would be tough when there are 20 or so games left,” Nash said, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “We don’t want to jeopardize there and have a setback where he misses another six to 12 games, so I think we’ll be cautious coming out of the break. There’s a chance he could play, but I think it’s more likely that we don’t get our hopes that he’s going to play the first game out of the break.”
Durant was averaging 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists before he got injured. The Nets were 24-12 when the future Hall of Famer was in the lineup. They were in first place in the East at one point in the season, but things went south after Durant went down.
The Nets recently traded James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two future draft picks. Durant approved the trade once he got the sense that Harden was no longer happy in Brooklyn and the two-time champion is excited to get to work with his teammates.
Durant on Nets: ‘I’m Confident in Our Group’
The Nets would be in the play-in tournament if the season ended today. However, Durant is optimistic that better days are ahead.
“We know we’re in some deep s–t, don’t get me wrong: But we do understand that with a win, one win, it could just put us on the right track,” Durant said, via Lewis. “And that’s what it takes in this league and things can change pretty fast. I’m confident in our group.”
Durant’s pal, Kyrie Irving, is still unvaccinated against COVID-19, so he can’t play in home games. Meanwhile, it’s unknown when Simmons will make his Brooklyn debut since he’s still dealing with mental health issues and getting back into playing shape.
The Nets desperately need Durant back. However, the scoring machine won’t play until he’s 100%.
“I want to be back as fast as possible, but I also know I don’t want to go out there and be 80 percent,” Durant said, via Lewis. “I want to be 100 so I can be the best that I can be.”