Kevin Durant won’t be making his Nets debut this summer. He and the team have decided to continue planning for Durant to return from his Achilles injury to start the 2020/21 season, with the star forward confirming earlier this month that his season is over.
As such, there’s no need for Durant – or teammate Kyrie Irving, who is also sidelined with an injury – to make a decision on whether or not to participate in the NBA’s restart plan. However, during an appearance on the Dawg Talk podcast this week, Durant admitted he’s not sure he’d want to play even if he were healthy.
“I feel, me right now, I probably wouldn’t have played because the unknown going into that situation looks crazy right now, seeing so many new (COVID-19) cases,” Durant said, per Alex Smith of SNY.tv. “It’s just so unpredictable. It’s easy for me to say right now because I’m injured but I probably wouldn’t have went down there.”
Of the four players who have voluntarily opted out so far, three – Davis Bertans, Trevor Ariza, and Willie Cauley-Stein – are on teams that are either outside of the playoff picture or hold a lower seed. That’s the case for the Nets as well — they have a half-game lead on Orlando for the No. 7 spot in the East. No Brooklyn players have opted out yet, but Durant said he’d support his teammates no matter what they decide.
“If the guys feel safe enough to go play, that’s cool. I’m with them,” said Durant. “If they don’t feel like they should go down there and play or don’t feel safe, I’m with them too. I’m all about what the group wants. If it’s good for the betterment of the whole group then I’m cool with it.
“I probably would have chilled. Obviously, I would have talked to my teammates and consulted with my guys and actually really went over it for the last month and a half, but me, my gut would have told me, ‘Nah, I wouldn’t want to go down there, especially after three months off.'”
Any player who voluntarily opts out of participating this summer will forfeit between approximately 9-15% of his salary for the 2019/20 season. His team will also be eligible to sign a substitute player to replace him, even without an open roster spot.
However, players who are sidelined with injuries can’t be replaced by a substitute player, which will limit the Nets’ roster flexibility — in addition to Durant and Irving, Nicolas Claxton will also be on the shelf with an injury this summer, leaving the team with just 12 healthy players on its 15-man roster. Two-way players Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin should be available to help provide depth.