While the possible return of the NBA season this summer remains a top question for fans, Kevin Durant’s comeback is on the minds of those in Brooklyn.
Durant ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last June. Such injuries usually require a year of recovery, and after Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency in July, general manager Sean Marks repeatedly had said the team expected Durant to miss the entire 2019-20 season.
But then the NBA suspended the season during the coronavirus pandemic, leading to questions about whether a summer restart could allow Durant to return.
“That’s a $110 million question,” Marks told Newshub in his native New Zealand for an article published Saturday. “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’s longtime business partner, Rich Kleiman, had opened the door to a late-summer return by telling The Washington Post at the end of February that it was “definitely a possibility” that Durant would play in the Tokyo Olympics. The Games had been scheduled to start in July, before they were postponed until the summer of 2021.
However, Kleiman also told ESPN’s Golic & Wingo shortly after the NBA suspended the season in mid-March that hopes of Durant playing in June or July were “not very realistic.” He followed that up with an appearance on The Michael Kay Show on April 30 in which he said his “assumption is no” that Durant will play this season.
Durant was among four Nets players who tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March, although he told The Athletic at the time that he was feeling fine and not showing any symptoms.
The NBA currently has no timeline or structure in place for a return to play.
The Nets are 30-34 and seventh in the Eastern Conference standings despite Durant’s season-long absence and multiple injuries to the team’s other major free-agent acquisition, Kyrie Irving, who was limited to 20 games before being shut down for the season.
“When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back,” Marks told Newshub. “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.