The Nets had all kinds of issues this season — Kyrie Irving‘s refusal to get vaccinated, James Harden‘s desire to be traded to Philadelphia, Joe Harris‘ injury — but Kevin Durant believes his knee injury was the biggest reason they nosedived in the standings.
“To be honest, I feel like our season was derailed by my injury,” Durant said to ESPN’s Nick Friedell and other media members. “So, I’m not looking at it like we’re just not a good basketball team. It’s like there wasn’t a lot of continuity with me and Kyrie out of the lineup, that’s just what it is. When we’re all on the floor together, I like what we got.”
The Nets will have to fight their way out of the play-in tournament but Durant isn’t worried about the extra challenges ahead.
“I don’t care who we play. I don’t care that we’re in the play-in. Just tip the ball up, see what happens,” he said. “That’s all you can control. It’s too stressful thinking about we’re trying to dodge a team, lining up, just play the game. We’ll see what happens.”
We have more on the New York teams:
- With Julius Randle shut down for the rest of the season, power forward Feron Hunt could see some action in the remaining Knicks games, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Hunt was signed last month to a two-way contract. In seven games with the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Hunt averaged 16.9 PPG. “We like who he is, so I want to get a chance to see him as well,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
- The Knicks have won five of their last seven games, which won’t help their chances of winning the draft lottery. RJ Barrett would rather finish the season on a high note than go into tank mode, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. “This helps build momentum, trying to finish out the season strong and carry that momentum into next year,” Barrett said. “Every game is important for us as a team for guys to develop and see who we are and who we’re going to be.”
- When the Knicks hire a replacement for assistant coach Kenny Payne, it will signal whether Thibodeau has regained autonomy over his staff, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines. As a condition of getting hired, Thibodeau agreed to take on Payne, Mike Woodson and Johnnie Bryant as his top assistants. One of Thibodeau’s hand-picked assistants, Darren Erman, moved to the front of the bench when Payne left to coach Louisville. If the Knicks add another assistant not associated with Thibodeau, it will signal that team executive William Wesley is once again exerting his influence.