Sports

Nets’ wait for Kevin Durant to return keeps getting longer

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Nets coach Steve Nash confirmed reports that Kevin Durant’s return to the court could be measured in weeks, not days.

Nash said a third scan on Durant’s strained left hamstring — arguably the most-watched body part in New York sports right now — showed marked progress. But sources had told The Post it could be multiple weeks before Durant was 100 percent up to speed to return to live NBA action, and Nash said as much Wednesday.

“Kevin had a scan and is much improved, and still needs time to continue to heal and to ramp up,” Nash said before Wednesday’s game in Indiana. “But we’re monitoring it and we expect him to make a full recovery and hopefully it won’t be too long. But he’s probably got a couple weeks of ramp-up left.”

Wednesday’s game was the 13th in a row, and the 16th in the last 17, that Durant has missed.

Durant hasn’t played since Feb. 13, and it could be some time until he returns. But when pressed on exactly what the next step would be for Durant — five-on-five, full practice — Nash somewhat walked back his earlier timeline.

Kevin Durant
AP

“You know, I shouldn’t put any timelines on it, because I don’t know what that takes,” Nash said. “But he’s improving. The scan was positive, and moving in a positive directions, healing.

“He’s been playing a little bit of one-on-one, two-on-two. So he’s continuing to advance his level of fitness and adaptation. And if he continues to improve and closes the gap on the healing, and also puts himself in a position to return safely to play, he’ll be back out. So we’ll see. That’s kind of up to his body and however long that takes.”

The first scan on Durant’s strained left hamstring wasn’t particularly conclusive, and a second one, before the NBA All-Star break, let the Nets know they were probably in for several weeks without him. The third scan, performed this week (believed to be Monday or Tuesday, though Nash said he didn’t know exactly when), showed it will be a while before Durant is set to take the court.

After sitting out 18 months following a June 2010 ruptured Achilles tendon, Durant has been nothing short of stellar in his comeback season — when he plays. He’s averaging 29.0 points — his highest total since 2013-14 — and shooting 52.4 percent overall and 43.4 percent from 3-point range.

Durant’s 65.2 true shooting percentage is a career-best in a career full of offensive highlights. But he has made just 19 appearances this season — 18 of them starts — while Wednesday marked his 22nd missed game so far.

Nash stressed that just because Durant hasn’t been cleared to play doesn’t mean he has been shut down entirely. Durant has actually joined the Nets on their road trip, and has been working out alongside forward Blake Griffin, which is helping both get ready to face live NBA action within the next couple of weeks.

“Blake and Kevin are [in Indiana]. They’re working out together and doing all their stuff, the rehab, with the performance team as well,” Nash said. “They’re both in really good shape that they can train and try to get toward adaptation.

“The brakes aren’t completely off Kevin, but he can do an awful lot, almost everything. It’s just a matter of being careful with that last little bit of functionality and load, so they’re together. They’re working through their two situations but are kind of in the same boat right now, and I think it’s good for them to have each other to try and push and build together.”

While the Nets mid-January trade for James Harden assembled a trio of superstars in teaming him with Durant and Kyrie Irving, that trio has still only started a half-dozen games together. The Nets are 19-4 when at least two of the Big 3 play, which has largely been Harden and Irving.

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Janice Hill

Janice is a Co-Founder of NetDebaito Official & a family member of Brit Media 360. Our News HUB aiming to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific viewpoint for each story catered. Every project is a proficient journalisms' who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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