Nets GM Marks opens door to Kevin Durant return
Hints injured superstar could be back if NBA season resumes
Nets General Manager Sean Marks is still in the dark as to when or if the NBA season will continue this year.
But the Brooklyn executive did hint over the weekend that if the Nets do return to the hardwood, they might have superstar Kevin Durant available for duty for the first time since they acquired him last summer.
“That’s a $110 million question,” Marks told Newshub in his native New Zealand.
“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.”
Durant, who inked a four-year, $164 million pact with Brooklyn after making three straight NBA Finals appearances and grabbing a couple of titles with the Golden State Warriors, has been out all season with an Achilles injury suffered during last year’s Finals against Toronto.
He was also one of four Nets who contracted coronavirus back in March, when the COVID-19 outbreak was still in its stateside infancy but growing rapidly.
Durant, who has since recovered from the virus, along with his as-yet-unnamed teammates, was engaging in practice and flashing some of the form that made him an NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time Finals MVP at the time of the league’s pause on March 11.
The 31-year-old Washington, D.C., native would be a major boon to the Brooklyn lineup if the NBA picks up play again as the Nets are currently lodged in the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
As it stands now, Brooklyn would meet defending NBA champion Toronto in the opening round of the postseason, putting Durant in position to earn a measure of revenge against the team he tore his Achilles against in Game 5 of last year’s Finals.
But Marks did try to quell some of the excitement surrounding a possible return for Durant, who still has three years left on his contract and was brought here to help the Nets seriously compete for their first NBA title.
“When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back,” Marks said.
“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.”
An even better thing would be the pairing of Durant with Kyrie Irving, the second half of Marks’ legendary free agent summer windfall.
Irving, who has played in only 20 games with Brooklyn this season due to an injured shoulder, could also be fully rehabbed and ready if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver unveils a re-opening plan for his dormant league.
Last month, Marks was asked about the possibility of having both players available if the pandemic caused the season to be pushed back significantly, which it already has.
“I don’t think that’s fair to those athletes, nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. I think everyone is dealing with bigger items, far more pressing items,” Mark said.
“I do know that those two players are continuing their rehab. But when you’re practicing social distancing and you’re in self-isolation, I haven’t physically seen them in three or four weeks, so it’s difficult for me to gauge as well as the performance team to where they are.”
Last Friday, the NBA postponed its annual draft lottery and combine as its teams’ final finishing order has not yet been fully determined.
With several months to go before the league can even consider beginning any of its possible end-of-season and/or playoff scenarios, Durant and Irving will have even more time to heal and get into some semblance of playing shape before the NBA returns.
That gives Brooklyn fans hope that for the first time since making national headlines by signing here together last summer, the dynamic duo will actually suit up and play for the Nets together in meaningful games and help them chase that elusive championship.
Nothing But Net: Several NBA practice facilities around the country will re-open with rules restrictions for players on Friday, but the Nets’ HSS Training Center in Sunset Park will not be one of them. Though facilities in states that have begun re-opening will allow four players at a time to come in and work out without coaches, the Nets will have a longer wait as New York City is at the epicenter of this virus and will likely not begin any re-open phases until the end of the month at the earliest. “The potential rules changes would allow teams to make their practice facilities available for use by the team’s players for workouts or treatment on a voluntary, individual basis if the team’s facility is in a city that is no longer subject to a government restriction,” the NBA release stated. “For any team that, due to a government restriction, is prohibited from making its facility available for use by the team’s players, the league will work with the team to identify alternatives.”
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