Atlantic Notes: Durant, Irving, Sixers, VanVleet

The Nets would be a much different team if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both return when the season resumes, and Greg Logan of Newsday looks at how having them on the court would affect the rest of the lineup. Durant will have had more than 13 months to recover from a torn Achilles tendon if games start again on July 31, while Irving will be nearly five months removed from shoulder surgery.

Logan believes Durant would take Taurean Prince‘s role in the starting lineup, while Irving would push Spencer Dinwiddie to the bench. That would give Brooklyn a stronger second team, along with Jarrett Allen, Wilson Chandler and probably Garrett Temple. If Durant and Irving don’t return, Logan notes, the Nets will have to rely on playoff minutes from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Chris Chiozza.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The return to action will give interim coach Jacque Vaughn a chance to prove himself under fire, Logan adds in the same story. Vaughn has coached just two games since taking over for Kenny Atkinson, but he already made a significant move, replacing Allen in the starting lineup with DeAndre Jordan. The Nets are rumored to have interest in some high-profile coaches, but Vaughn will get to show what he can do in a high-pressure atmosphere.
  • If Ben Simmons is fully recovered from a back injury, the Sixers could return with a starting lineup that has never played together, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Shortly after Simmons got hurt in late February, coach Brett Brown decided to replace Al Horford as a starter and eventually settled on Shake Milton. Simmons, Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid haven’t taken the court together at all this season.
  • Fred VanVleet believes the Raptors are in good position to defend their NBA title, relays Scott Rafferty of VanVleet discussed Toronto’s chances during an appearance this week on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “I think that’s part of the reason that everyone wants to get back, at least from our camp,” he said. “We knew we had a good chance, as good a chance as anybody from obviously what we did last year and then to come back after losing Kawhi (Leonard) and Danny (Green) to have the team that we had this year.”
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