Prior to Monday’s game against the Cavaliers, Steve Nash provided an update on Kevin Durant but didn’t offer specifics about the superstar’s return.
“I think we don’t have a timeline. I think a few weeks before we re-evaluate him,” said Nash on Durant. “Right now, we’ll just wait and see how it heals and how he recovers over the next few weeks, and then there will be more of a re-evaluation and hopefully some sort of timeline.”
Adrian Wojnarowski, on Sunday, tweeted that the Nets were “optimistic” about a return in four-to-six weeks. Durant suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee during the second quarter of Saturday’s 120-105 win. The Nets head coach wouldn’t disclose the grade of the MCL sprain. The Nets are 3-3 without KD this season, 24-12 since last season.
In wake of the bad news, there was also some good news.
Joe Harris, who is rehabbing from left ankle surgery made the trip with the team. The Nets head coach said he believes the 30-year-old is cleared for light shooting, but Nash said he will not play. Harris hasn’t played since November, going under the knife to remove “foreign bodies’ two weeks later. Harris’ presence on the trip was uncertain so leaving Brooklyn, and a full-time rehab regiment, has to be seen as a positive.
The Nets head coach is also hopeful Nic Claxton, who is dealing with left hamstring tightness can play on this four-game road trip. Claxton was declared out Monday after being listed as questions. Including Monday afternoon’s game, Claxton has missed four games with the injury.
“That’d be great. I think he’s in more of the day-to-day camp. It might be the last game of the trip. It might be the next game, but I would say I’m hopeful he’ll play on this trip,” Nash said.
LaMarcus Aldridge will be available this afternoon. Just after Nash spoke, the Nets upgraded their injury report to include DeAndre’ Bembry who is out with back spasms.
When asked whether the Nets head coach spoke to Durant since Sunday’s MRI results presented an MCL sprain, Nash said Durant is disappointed that he’ll be sidelined for an indefinite amount of time.
“He’s obviously disappointed. The guy loves to play and it’s tough anytime you’re injured, but this is just the reality,” said Nash on how Durant’s feeling. “Just got to stay positive and look forward to the opportunity to play, and that it’s not worse.”
Losing the league’s leading scorer is a massive hit to the Nets, and the Nets head coach knows that better than anyone. While Durant is a few weeks away from a re-evaluation, Nash wants his players to continue to seize the opportunity and continue to grow with the 11-time All-Star out of the lineup.
“We lose a scorer of the highest caliber. We also lose size and defense, so he’s such a well-rounded player that does so many things at a high level. Plus he gives us small-team size on the perimeter. There are so many ways his absence will be felt,” said the Nets head coach. “Having said that, it’s a great opportunity for guys and our team to grow. We can’t rely on him in ways we could and we have to find ways and solutions to be competitive without him.”
The Nets’ “Big Three” has played only 16 games (including the 2021 playoffs) together since joining forces in Brooklyn, going 13-3. When Nash was asked whether the lack of playing time among the superstar trio is a concern, the Nets head coach said he doesn’t dwell on it. He wants his group to continue to grow through the tough period and be as prepared as possible by the 2022 playoffs come April.
“It’s a great challenge. I don’t spend time dwelling on it. It wouldn’t do us any good. It wouldn’t do me any good. It wouldn’t do the team any good if the leader of the team is sitting at home contemplating how many games they haven’t played,” said Nash. “That would take me away from being excited and positive to come in every day and try to affect the group positively for these guys to feel empowered, hope, and grow in the future.
“For us, it’s staying even-keeled and trying to be resolute that this is a period of growth regardless of who’s in and out of the lineup and when they’ll be back. We just need to continue to work and work every day to figure things out so when the time comes where we’re farther down the road, we’re more prepared for the playoffs.”