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Steve Nash: Kevin Durant and Goran Dragic likely to return in ‘next three games’

The All-Star Break is in the books and there’s promising news out of Brooklyn: news that two of Brooklyn’s players can count down the days till their return to the hardwood.

Both Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons are making their way back to the court, Steve Nash said Thursday. Durant is close to coming back from his right knee MCL sprain while Simmons is at the conditioning stage of his ramp-up. The Nets head coach stated that Durant is the closest to a return with Simmons behind him.

“In general terms, to return to play, you have to have a number of high-intensity workouts. So playing at full capacity typically three times before you can return without an incident. They’re all at different stages of that,” Nash said. “That’s kind of the markers we’re looking at and like I said, at various points in the high-intensity bucket already. Some are not.”

In order for both Simmons and Durant to establish their returns, the stars need to string together a series of “high-intensity workouts” without incident, said Nash.

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Michelle Farsi/Getty Images

The Nets head coach disclosed that Durant has one high-intensity workout under his belt. Nash didn’t provide any further details on what goes into the workout plan but noted that it’s simply a matter of how the 33-year-old star comes out of each workout.

“He’s playing. I would say he’s had one,” said Nash on Durant’s workout count. “We’ll see. He seems like he’s getting there. We’ll see how he responds tomorrow and then we’ll try to get him subsequent workouts.”

With Durant the closest of the three Nets to make a return to the hardwood, the Nets head coach left the door open for minutes against the Bucks on Saturday but sees his cornerstone superstar more likely to return within the timeline of the coming week.

“I’m sure it’s possible but for me, it’s probably again in the next three games more likely than Saturday,” said Nash on Durant’s foreseeable return.

Nash said the big issue with Simmons is physical rather than mental. Simmons cited mental health issues in his season-long holdout.

“Conditioning,” said Nash on what’s keeping Simmons off the court. “It’s been a long layoff. He hasn’t played NBA basketball for a long time so we’re just trying to work through that.”

“I think it’s unfair for me to talk about Ben’s headspace. All I can say is we’re excited to have him with us and get him back to activity after such a long layoff where he wasn’t around a group,” the Nets head coach said. “These are periods we really want to take our time to assess.”

Somewhere in the middle is Goran Dragic, who officially inked his remainder-of-the-season deal with Brooklyn on Tuesday. Nash explained that it’s not out of the question Dragic can make his Nets debut against the Bucks Saturday night but it’s more likely he’ll return within the stretch of games this week. Dragic hasn’t played in an NBA game since November,

“I suppose it’s not out of the question,” said Nash on Dragic playing Saturday against Milwaukee. “We have to assess how he comes through today, tomorrow and see where he’s at Saturday. It’s probably less likely he’ll play Saturday, but I think in the next three games, he’s out there.”

As for Harris, Nash didn’t talk about where he stands on Thursday. On Wednesday, Nash would only say, “He is still working through things.”