NEW YORK — There is a “high probability” that Kevin Durant will return to the court this coming week after missing more than seven weeks with a hamstring strain, Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash said Saturday.
Nash said there is a chance Durant could play as soon as Monday against the New York Knicks.
“I am not certain on Monday,” Nash said. “I think it’s an outside possibility, but I also couldn’t say he’s in any stretch probable for Monday. I think it’s just wait and see. But it does look positive that this week sometime, there’s a high probability he can return.”
The Nets also will be without James Harden until at least Monday, as he will not play in Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls. That will be Harden’s second straight game out since suffering hamstring tightness against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
Durant last played on Feb. 13 against the Golden State Warriors. Since then, the Nets have added veterans Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge to their roster. The Nets’ Big Three of Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving have played just seven games together since Harden was traded to Brooklyn in mid-January.
On Thursday, Durant said that he is feeling “great” in his rehabilitation and that he is “progressing pretty well” toward returning to the court.
“Initially, I didn’t think it was that bad, just a regular strain,” Durant said. “Then we got a second scan and they say it was a little deeper than that. It was one of those things where I’m not feeling a ton of pain, but you don’t want to force one of these injuries and make it worse.”
Durant went on to say that he felt he had to be “smart” and “cautious” with his hamstring. Before Durant was sidelined, he was averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebound and 5.3 assists per game.
When the former league MVP returns, the Nets will be tasked with quickly building chemistry on the fly before the playoffs begin in mid-May. Nash feels the friendships the group has built off the court should aid the players in meshing well on the floor. Still, Nash said the entire roster needs to play some games together so the Nets can iron out a rotation and jell before the postseason begins.
Nash said he also felt the team needed to play through challenging games, some close games, together and “face some adversity,” so that they have some familiarity before they find themselves facing that in a playoff game.
“I think a lot of first-year teams struggle to compete for a championship if for no other reason than that collective history and experience,” Nash said. “So, that’s something we have to accept and have to overcome.”