Before tip-off of Wednesday’s game against the New York Knicks, Steve Nash provided some much-anticipated updates on some key Nets players, Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and newcomer Ben Simmons.
Durant has been nursing a knee sprain since January 16. It has been speculated that he’d return at some point past the All-Star break. Some even threw out January 24 vs. the Boston Celtics, the Nets’ first game after the break, as a possible return date.
Nash threw some water on that theory, stating that fans “shouldn't expect him” to return to action directly after the break.
“We’ll see, I wouldn’t expect him. Yeah, I’m not like, ‘he’s gonna play right when the break ends,’ there’s obviously a small chance, but we want to be really careful and safe with Kevin,” said Nash. “Like, a setback would be tough when we only have by whatever it is, 20 or so games left, we don’t want to jeopardize it or have a setback where he misses another six to 10 or 12 games in the 20. So I think would be cautious coming out of the break.”
Joe Harris, meanwhile, is still without a timeline. He’s been out since late November to remove “loose bodies” from his ankle and has since then had multiple flare-ups during his recovery. Right now, Harris is still hoping to grit it out while easing the swelling in his ankle, but a second option is surgery.
“I think everything’s on the table at this point. We hope that he comes back, but we have no idea where this is gonna go at this point,” said Nash. “We’re just continuing his rehab and hopefully we get some good signs and positive signs soon, but I have no update.”
Nash also went into detail about Harris’ rehab process.
“He’s doing a lot of rehab work off the court, and then he does a little bit of court work,” said Nash. “So I’m not exactly sure how intense he can take it right now. But I do know that he’s doing some light core work.”
Simmons, meanwhile, has yet to step on the floor this season while holding out for a trade from Philadelphia, which was (finally) granted this week. Obviously, the Nets need to see what type of shape he’s in. After all, he’s yet to play an NBA game and we’re almost 60 contests into an 82-game season.
Nash mentioned that the Nets’ performance team is still in that exploratory stage while constructing the optimal ramp-up plan. You guessed it, this also means (*drumroll please*), no timeline for his return. Simmons has yet to practice with his new teammates.
“He’s still going through all those assessments and his prep work with the performance team and trying to assess this layoff and make a plan and the forming of beginning steps of that plan,” said Nash. “So we’re still in that stage more than, you know, has he joined jumping in practice yet? So to speak.”
Nash also made an interesting comment about Andre Drummond during the pregame presser. The second-year head coach is rare to critique his players, especially newcomers, but he made a point to highlight Drummond’s conditioning as a point of emphasis.
“We’re excited for him to continue to get more comfortable in the way we play and also really getting in great shape,” Nash said. “He’s gonna play more minutes for us as far as the way we project this to go. So he’s used to playing in the teens, I think, and so he’s gonna play more, and I think that part of it is adapting to the new role.”
Note: This isn’t Nash taking a dig at his new center’s conditioning. In fact, quite the opposite. It appears the Nets expect Drummond to take on a heavy load, perhaps even as a starter, for this championship contender. For a team that is clearly looking to play fast based on the endless supply of quotes from interviews, it’ll be paramount that Drummond gets sleek and lean to keep pace.
Who knows, maybe Brooklyn sees him as the best center on the team.