Kevin Durant will not return for the 2019-2020 season, according to multiple sources. The decision was made after Durant and the Brooklyn Nets evaluated their options following the NBA announcement of its plan to return on July 31.
Kyrie Irving, recovering from shoulder impingement surgery, also will not return, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
One league source told NetsDaily that while Durant is indeed healthy, there is concern about getting him back out there with the condensed schedule needed to complete the season and playoffs at Walt Disney World in Florida. Durant’s rehab was interrupted first by his need to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus in mid-March, then limitations placed on team training centers.
Indeed, in an interview with Marc J. Spears later Friday, Durant confirmed he would not be playing in the resumed season.
“My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all. We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season....
“It’s just best for me to wait. I don’t think I’m ready to play that type of intensity right now in the next month. It gives me more time to get ready for next season and the rest of my career.”
Durant added that he’s looking forward to playing next season ... at Barclays Center.
“I miss the locker room. I miss preparing for games. My teammates. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Barclays (Center) crowd for the first time. I miss the locker room a lot and that camaraderie.”
He admits that his —and the Nets organization’s— conservative approach to his recovery and rehab is in part the result of his return from previous injuries where he rushed to get back on the court and wound up the worse for it.
Durant ruptured his Achilles during the NBA Finals then underwent surgery on June 12. With the NBA returning on July 31, it’ll be a little more than 13 months since his surgery. Durant, his agent/manager Rich Kleiman and Sean Marks have repeatedly said throughout the season and the NBA stoppage that a return was unlikely. Speculation grew as the stoppage continued then as the league moved quickly on its comeback, but sources believe the Nets are sticking with their original plan to keep him out for the season.
Prior to the NBA shutdown on March 11, KD was working out teammates and assistant coaches in 3-on-3 and even 5-on-5 scrimmages.
Irving underwent his surgery on March 3. Woj tweeted that Irving, one of the NBPA’s vice presidents, revealed his choice on the players union conference call...
Kyrie Irving suggested on the NBPA conference call today that it's possible he could join the Nets in Orlando this summer --- as an inactive player supporting his teammates, sources said. Irving had season-ending shoulder surgery on March 3. https://t.co/MKrfaGQhwy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 6, 2020
Whether KD will join their teammates in Florida remains uncertain.
“That is a decision we are still making. I still got some time to make it. As of right now, I am enjoying the routine I am on.”
Durant attended just one road game with the team this year — the final one before the hiatus in Los Angeles.
The NBA plans to start its 2020-2021 season in December. If that’s the case, Durant would go 18 months without playing a single minute since his injury.
Durant told Spears he is looking forward to playing in —and for— Brooklyn.
“It’s a city with a lot of energy and culture. It’s fresh in basketball space because Barclays has only been around six or seven years now. I feel like it’s new energy. They’re looking for something to latch onto. We are one of the first teams in Nets history where before we touch the floor that fans are expecting us to do good things. I’m excited about the expectations they put on us. I’m excited to play hard for them. In that city, the basketball culture is deep there and they’re looking for a team to latch on to. I’m excited.”
KD said he continues his physical rehab, comparing it to his normal summer time routine.
“I’m doing well. Working out every day. I’m moving. I’m feeling like a normal player again. I’m just in my summertime routine. I’m working out every day and going to the gym in the morning. So, I feel good.”
As for his experience with COVID-19 back in March, Durant said he recovered but like his agent and business partner Rich Kleiman has said, things were uncertain and scary. KD, like many who contract the virus, was asymptomatic.
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- Nets star Kevin Durant confirms his ‘season is over’ as he eyes return for next campaign - Greg Logan - Newsday
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- Nets’ Kevin Durant confirms that he won’t play when NBA restarts: ‘I had no plans of playing at all this season’ - Alex Smith - SNY
- Kevin Durant rules himself out for remainder of 2019-20 season: ‘Best for me to wait’ - Marc J. Spears - ESPN
- Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant: “My season is over.” - AP
- Why Kevin Durant is Doing a Disservice to His Teammates - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN