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Sidelined, but not out of it: Kenny Atkinson talks about his injured superstars

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As we all know, the Nets “expectation” is that Kevin Durant will be out for the season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles. Whether the expectation changes at any point this season is up in the air. And Kyrie Irving has been sidelined by a facial fracture that has caused him to miss three practices and wear a mask. No word yet on when he’ll return.

Still, Kenny Atkinson told the media gathered at HSS Training Center Monday they’re very much part of the Nets preseason ... as the Post’s Howie Kussoy reports...

“[We’re] just building that relationship. I’ll come over to him in practice, and ask, ‘What do you think of this? What’d you guys do in Golden State? What’d you do in Oklahoma City?’ You’re always having those dialogues. He’s an observer. He’s watching everything. He’s very aware. You can see an awareness. He doesn’t say a lot, but when he says something, it makes you stand at attention.”

“He’s rehabbing courtside, he’s watching what we’re doing, walking around to our stations, encouraging guys, dialogue, it’s been a real nice balance. He’s been super present. It’s been really good so far.”

Kyrie Irving has played a similar role, Atkinson noted...

“He knows when to chime in and when to sit back. He’s made a couple suggestions already, and I was like, ‘Yes.’ … When it comes from an All-Star, it carries a little more weight. I’m really impressed with his knowledge of the game.

“These guys are out on the battlefield. You have to get their feedback.”

The two have also been seen shooting around, with someone who looks like the Nets German tele-coach Stefan Weissenboeck nearby.