Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant Will Still Serve As All-Star Captain

Kevin Durant won’t play in next Sunday’s All-Star Game and he may not even travel to Atlanta for the event, but he will remain one of the team captains, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Durant hasn’t played since February 13 because of a strained left hamstring, and the decision to have him skip the All-Star Game was made this week after a follow-up MRI. The Nets‘ medical staff believes Durant needs additional time to return to full strength.

Durant will continue with rehab and will be re-evaluated after the break. Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis was selected as his replacement for the All-Star Game, while Celtics forward Jayson Tatum will replace KD as one of the game’s 10 starters.

As captain, Durant will participate in the All-Star draft along with LeBron James to choose which players will be on each team. The event will be televised March 4 on TNT.

Durant Sidelined Through All-Star Break; Sabonis Gets All-Star Nod

Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant will not play prior to the All-Star break, according to a team press release. He’ll be replaced on the All-Star roster by Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The decision on Durant’s status was made after a follow-up MRI on his strained left hamstring. The MRI led the team’s medical staff to the conclusion that Durant required an “additional recovery period.” The club is confident Durant will return to full strength and the “extra recovery time will allow him to perform at the level at which he was playing this season.” He’ll continue to undergo rehab and will be re-assessed after the break.

Earlier this week, coach Steve Nash said that he expected Durant to return before the break. Durant hasn’t played since February 13 but the Nets have won all six games he’s missed due to the injury. He also sat out the previous week due to COVID-19 contact tracing.

Brooklyn plays at home against Dallas on Saturday before embarking on a two-game Texas trip with stops in San Antonio and Houston before the March 7 All-Star Game.

Durant is averaging 29.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 5.3 APG after missing last season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Sabonis, meanwhile, is averaging 21.5 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 5.7 APG. He’ll be making his second straight All-Star appearance and will earn a $1.3MM bonus for making the team, even though he was named as a replacement rather than making the initial 12-man squad, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter).

Atlantic Notes: Nets Injuries, Brown, Raptors, Celtics

Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant remains out for Thursday’s scheduled bout against the Magic, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Durant has suited up for just three games this month, having missed action both as a result of COVID-19 health and safety protocols and – more recently – a left hamstring strain.

Versatile Nets forward Jeff Green will join Durant on the sidelines tonight for a second straight game, as he continues to recover from a shoulder contusion, Andrews mentions in a separate tweet. Guard Landry Shamet is questionable with a chest contusion, Andrews adds. Small forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, listed as questionable yesterday, is now available for tonight, Andrews tweets.

All these absences haven’t slowed down Brooklyn so far: the team is currently riding a season-high seven-game win streak. Of course, the fact that the Nets still have two other All-Stars available in James Harden and Kyrie Irving has helped them weather the storm of other rotation player absences.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The frontcourt-depleted Nets have found success in using athletic 6’4″ guard Bruce Brown as a de facto center in some lineups, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “The guy mostly played point guard last year, and he’s playing — what do you want to call him?” head coach Steve Nash wondered. “Our center? He’s picking and rolling and finishing with two bigs in the lane. His willingness and ability to do that is remarkable.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic wonders whether adding a more effective traditional center than Aron Baynes is the most crucial roster need for the Raptors, should they be buyers at next month’s trade deadline. The team has thrived in small-ball lineups, and could possibly maximize trade leverage by being receptive to adding wings and forwards as well as a center, Murphy opines. What team president Masai Ujiri, himself a potential free agent this summer, decides to do remains in flux. The team is apparently open to sending longtime point guard Kyle Lowry to a contender. Toronto’s 16-17 record currently has the club slotted as a solid-but-unspectacular No. 5 seed in the East, but there is significant parity beneath the conference’s three best teams. Only 4.5 games separate the fourth-seeded Pacers from the current No. 14 seed, the Cavaliers.
  • Though Celtics team president Danny Ainge and owner Wyc Grousbeck both appear open to waiting until as late as the 2021 offseason to exercise the $28.5MM traded player exception they acquired in exchange for now-Hornets forward Gordon Hayward in 2020, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston cautions that such an approach could be risky.

Kevin Durant Expected To Return Before All-Star Break

Nets head coach Steve Nash indicated that the team anticipates getting All-Star forward Kevin Durant back on the court ahead of the All-Star Game but is being cautious with his return timeline, per Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).

The 11-time All-Star will miss his fifth straight game (and eight of the last nine) for Brooklyn tonight due to a mild left hamstring strain. Prior to that, coronavirus-related health and safety protocols held Durant out for three games earlier in February.

The Nets have not missed Durant on the court during his two absences this month. Brooklyn is currently riding a six-game winning streak, and KD played in just one of those victories.

Durant’s fellow All-Star snipers Kyrie Irving and James Harden, along with swingman Joe Harris, have all stepped up in his absence. The win streak has propelled the Nets to a 20-12 record, good for the No. 2 seed in the East.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Simmons, Nurse, Finch, Durant

Sixers forward Tobias Harris advised Ben Simmons that the best way to quell trade rumors is to win a title, Harris told Sam Amick of The Athletic. Simmons was mentioned prominently as part of a potential package for James Harden before Harden was dealt to Brooklyn.

“I had conversations with Ben, too,” Harris said. “I was like, ‘The only way you become untradeable, pretty much, is if you win a championship.’ If you win a championship, nobody is breaking apart (that) team. You’ll add pieces to the team, but you’re not breaking up the core pieces. That was one of the things (he talked with Simmons about). I think it was kind of motivating (for him).”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse does not anticipate that they’ll receive any compensation from the Timberwolves for assistant coach Chris Finch, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Finch was hired as Minnesota head coach on Monday, and Nurse was happy to see him get the opportunity, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets. “I’ve always seen it as my job to help people (achieve) their career ambitions,” Nurse said.
  • The Raptors head coach said he became aware of Minnesota’s interest in Finch over the weekend, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets“It did all happen really quick. Those things are never done until they’re done but we had a pretty good idea that (last night) would be Chris’ last game and then we would be on the move… It really did happen in like 36 hours.” Nurse will temporarily take more control of offensive duties while re-organizing his assistants’ responsibilities.
  • Kevin Durant‘s hamstring is showing improvement, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I reiterate we’re all optimistic and positive that he’s improving at a rapid rate, and will be back soon,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. However, Durant will miss his fifth consecutive game on Tuesday, Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press tweets.

Nets Notes: Durant, Roberson, Second Unit, Harris

Kevin Durant will miss his fourth straight game on Sunday due to a left hamstring strain, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN. Durant, who missed all of last season while rehabbing a ruptured Achilles, did strengthening exercises on Saturday. “I don’t think this is a long-term thing,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “But there is elements of maybe it being, taking a few more days than we thought or just being cautious.”

We have more on the Nets:

  • Andre Roberson is relieved to get another NBA opportunity, as he told Tom Dowd of The former Thunder wing signed with the club on Tuesday. “I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream,” Roberson said. “I knew at some point, a door, an opportunity would open, whether it be this season or next season, so I was just gonna stay in shape as best I can. … I had some traction with other teams, but nothing really stuck, but the Nets called.”
  • Nash is happy to see reserves like Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Landry Shamet and Tyler Johnson make a greater impact, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “They’ve all really played well. It makes our depth look a lot better,” Nash said. “The second unit’s been producing, holding or extending leads.”
  • Joe Harris, who re-signed on a four-year, $75MM contract over the offseason, is benefiting from being surrounding by stars, Joyce notes in another piece. Harris is taking more 3-pointers than he ever (6.6 per game) and is making a league-best 50.7%. Harris has knocked down 43 3-pointers in the last 11 games.

Atlantic Notes: McCaw, Lowry, Nets, Celtics, Knicks

Raptors guard Patrick McCaw hasn’t suited up at all for the team this season as he recovers from knee surgery, but his returns appears imminent. As Josh Lewenberg of tweets, McCaw is listed on the latest injury report as probable for Friday’s game vs. Minnesota.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, is dealing with a thumb injury and is listed as questionable for Friday’s contest, per Lewenberg. Head coach Nick Nurse previously indicated that he expects Lowry to miss at least one more game.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Notes: VanVleet, Nets, Drummond, Flynn

In the absence of injured veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has provided Toronto a glimpse of the next era of its core leadership, per Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. The 34-year-old Lowry has served as the longtime emotional center driving Toronto. He will be an unrestricted free agent when the season ends. The Raptors have posted an encouraging 16-2 record without Lowry over the past two seasons.

VanVleet has averaged 22.0 PPG and 7.1 APG across 15 Raptors games without Lowry during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, Feschuk goes on to note.

“Any time a guy goes down, it’s that next-man-up mentality that we have always had around here and something that I have tried to continue to do is just increase my level of play when he’s out,” VanVleet said of adjusting to the absence of his current Raptors backcourt mate. “I thought the entire team just picked it up a notch when he went down and that’s what you like to see.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • A strained left hamstring will continue to sideline Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant as Brooklyn takes on the Lakers in a TNT bout tonight, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets that the other injured Nets All-Star, guard Kyrie Irving, will be returning to action for Brooklyn tonight. Irving missed the Nets’ latest game, a 128-124 thriller against the Suns on Tuesday night, due to a lower back injury.
  • Now that the Cavaliers have established they are officially benching center Andre Drummond ahead of a trade or possible buyout, the Knicks should consider adding the big man to their ranks via trade, argues Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman notes that New York considered trading for Drummond last season before he was ultimately shipped to Cleveland by the Pistons.
  • The Raptors are recalling rookie point guard Malachi Flynn from their G League affiliate, Raptors 905, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (via Twitter). Murphy adds that Flynn is available to play for the club tonight (Twitter link) in its current contest against the Bucks.

2021 NBA All-Star Game Starters Revealed

The NBA has revealed its 2021 All-Star Game starters. Here are those names:

Eastern Conference

After missing all of the 2019/20 season while he recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Durant is making his triumphant return to the All-Star Game. In his first appearance as a Brooklyn player, the 11-time All-Star will captain a team, having led the Eastern Conference in fan votes.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Eastern All-Stars]

This is the seventh All-Star appearance for Durant’s teammate Irving. Antetokounmpo, the reigning two-time MVP, has just made his fifth All-Star game. A frontrunner for the 2021 MVP award, Embiid is appearing in his fourth such contest. Beal will be making his first All-Star start after playing as a reserve in the 2018 and 2019 All-Star contests. The Wizards are the No. 13 seed in the East.

Western Conference

James, who was the top vote-getter in the Western Conference and the entire NBA with 5,922,554 fan votes, will again be a team captain. He will be suiting up for his 17th All-Star appearance, the third-most ever behind only fellow Laker legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19 appearances) and Kobe Bryant (18). James was previously tied for making the third-most cumulative All-Star contests alongside Hall of Fame Nets and Sixers wing Julius Erving, who was selected into five ABA All-Star games and 11 NBA All-Star games.

Jokic, an early top MVP contender along with James and Embiid, will earn his first All-Star start in his third appearance in the game. Curry will partake in his seventh All-Star contest, while Leonard has just been voted into his fifth All-Star game.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Western All-Stars]

Doncic barely edged out Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard to be the second All-Star guard next to Curry among the starters, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Despite extended absences from starters CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Collins, the Blazers boast an 18-10 record, good for the No. 4 seed in the crowded West, largely thanks to Lillard. The Mavericks, meanwhile, are 13-15, the No. 10 seed in the West.

As was the case during the last two years, the top vote-getters of each conference will captain a team, and will be able to draft players from either conference. The “Elam Ending,” which made the conclusion of last year’s game much more entertaining than it had been in recent years, is set to return again this year.

Earlier today, the league officially announced that the 2021 All-Star Game is set to take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, as a one-night event on March 7. The evening will also include its three All-Star weekend mainstay events: the Skills Competition, the Three-Point Contest and the Dunk Contest.

A full list of fan voting totals is viewable at this Twitter link, courtesy of Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. The complete voting breakdown by position and conference, including media and player votes, can be found at the bottom of this press release.

The league will announce the 14 players who will comprise the All-Star reserves on Tuesday, February 22, at 7 p.m. ET, per Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).

Kevin Durant Out At Least Two Games With Hamstring Strain

Nets star Kevin Durant has been diagnosed with a mild left hamstring strain and will miss at least the next two games, the team announced (via Twitter).

Brooklyn’s next two games are in Sacramento on Monday and in Phoenix on Tuesday. If Durant’s absence doesn’t extend beyond those two contests, he’d be able to return for a Thursday showdown in Los Angeles against the Lakers on TNT.

It has been a stop-and-start year so far for Durant, who missed the entire 2019/20 season as he recovered from an Achilles tear. The Nets have played it safe with the former MVP in the early going, holding him out of half of some back-to-back sets to manage his return from that injury. Durant has also been sidelined for several games due to two separate week-long stints in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Since James Harden made his Nets debut on January 16, the team’s Big Three – Durant, Harden, and Kyrie Irving – has been active for just seven of 15 games, and Durant was forced to exit one of those games early due to COVID-19 protocols.

On the plus side for Brooklyn, DeAndre Jordan, who missed Saturday’s game vs. Golden State for personal reasons, is listed as probable to play on Monday against Sacramento.