Despite ongoing speculation about the possibility of Kevin Durant making his Nets debut this summer when the 2019/20 NBA season resumes, multiple sources tell Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily that Durant won’t return for the rest of the season.
Puccio’s report is the most definitive update we’ve gotten yet on Durant, but it aligns with everything we’ve heard over the last few months about the star forward’s recovery from an Achilles tear suffered last June.
Durant’s manager and business partner Rich Kleiman has repeatedly stated that it’s unrealistic to expect KD to play this summer; after initially leaving the door open to the possibility of Durant’s return, Nets general manager Sean Marks seemed to close that door last month; and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated in a podcast nearly a month ago that Brooklyn wouldn’t be playing the two-time Finals MVP this summer.
This week alone, several more updates have indicated that Durant still isn’t expected to suit up for the Nets until the 2020/21 campaign begins. As Greg Logan of Newsday notes, teammate Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot recently told a French outlet that he didn’t think KD would be back this summer.
Appearing this morning on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Brian Windhorst said the Nets’ official stance is that Durant won’t play this summer, adding that the compressed nature of the tentative schedule make it an even unlikelier proposition. And following up on Puccio’s report, Chris Mannix of SI.com tweeted that the idea of Durant returning this summer was “never a serious idea.”
Getting Durant and Kyrie Irving back for July 31 would have made the Nets an intriguing challenger in the Eastern Conference playoffs, even though they won’t be higher than a No. 7 seed. However, with Durant’s return apparently off the table and Irving’s status still up in the air, according to Puccio, the idea of Brooklyn making a deep postseason run looks like a long shot.
It makes sense that the Nets would prefer to play it safe with Durant, given the unusual nature of the summer schedule and the fact that he’ll likely be very rusty upon returning. The optics of KD’s Finals return and subsequent re-injury for the Warriors a year ago may also be in the back of the Nets’ minds. And even with Durant on the court, Brooklyn probably isn’t a serious title contender this season, so there’s little upside in risking another setback.
As Durant continues to rehab and work toward his return to the court, he’s also been busy off the court. Mark J. Burns of SportsBusiness Daily reports that the 31-year-old has become a stakeholder in the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer franchise. Durant’s share is believed to be worth between between one and five percent, according to Burns.