When the Nets open the second half of the season Thursday, they won’t have Kevin Durant. And from the sound of it, they could be without their superstar forward for a while longer.
Durant has already been ruled out of Thursday’s night’s game against the Celtics with the same hamstring injury that has cost him the previous nine contests. And he’s not even slated to receive more medical imaging until next week.
“Kevin is getting better all the time, has a scan next week, and we’ll assess him then,” coach Steve Nash said. “But he hasn’t played in a month, so no matter what the scan says, there will still be an appropriate ramp up, trying to make sure we put him in a position to finish the season strong.”
Durant hasn’t played since Feb. 14 due to a left hamstring strain. After an initial scan wasn’t particularly clear, a second one gave the Nets a hint this could be a long absence.
“I think when we got the second scan, we knew this was going to be longer,” Nash said. “The first scan, there was bleeding and the imaging wasn’t as clear. So I think we realized the second scan that this is the type of timeline we’re looking at.
“And we’ll see: That could change. But we were expecting the potential for this to be a month or whatever it may be. So who knows? Who knows what the scan says? Who knows where this takes us and how soon he’s back. But I think when we got the second scan, we knew that this was probably what we’re looking at.”
Durant missed 18 months rehabbing after he ruptured his right Achilles tendon in June 2019, so the Nets are being predictably cautious to avoid any problems lingering the rest of the season.
Though Durant has returned to on-court activity, it’s low impact and doesn’t involve running or any kind of full-team work.
“He is definitely not doing five-on-five. He definitely is not doing any full court, high speed running. But he is doing a lot of half court, tight space shooting rhythm work. But we will wait for the scan to escalate and take the next step,” said Nash, adding the Nets are just looking to see improvement next week. “I just think seeing the injury heal, frankly. That simple.
“He’s been on the court, he’s been doing a lot of work and just making sure that it’s had the appropriate healing response in the window that we’ve had here. Theoretically, he’s had two weeks and a scan, and another two weeks and a scan. If it’s progressing in the right direction, that’s the No. 1 thing. And [No. 2], is it fully healed? How much more can we predict for it to be fully healed? But he’s already on the court, he’s already working individually and putting himself in a position to escalate that ramp up whenever the scan gives us the appropriate info.”
Durant has missed 18 games, almost half the slate so far. But the Nets are taking solace not just in how good he has looked, but also in expert medical opinion that the hamstring injury isn’t compensatory or related to the Achilles.
“No,” Nash said emphatically. “You never want to rule out compensatory patterns, because even if you can’t diagnose it, perhaps it’s a part of anything. But that’s kind of my point. Through his history, through medical history and assessment, we don’t feel like these two are related at all. And he’s doing really well right now and we all feel really positive about the direction he’s going. But we just need to be very cautious, because he’s a really important player for us.”