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Kevin Durant Update: Rehab progressing well, star to be reassessed in two weeks

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Chris Milholen

There’s good news and bad news in Tuesday’s anxiously awaited update on Kevin Durant’s progress in his recovery and rehab from a sprained MCL suffered two weeks ago. The good news is that Nets long-time medical director, Dr. Riley Williams III is “very pleased” with Durant’s progress. The bad news is that, as had been predicted by several sources, Durant will miss at least a month of action. He’ll be re-evaluated in another two weeks, meaning he’ll miss at least another six games on top of the six he’s already missed.

Things started with the Nets release of their medical update...

Following Brooklyn’s press release (as well as your typical Woj vs. Shams spins on the news), both Jacque Vaughn and Kevin Durant spoke with the media after practice. Vaughn, per usual, was upbeat in essentially reiterating the PR statement that Durant’s rehab was progressing as expected.

“It sounds like everything’s headed in the right direction, really encouraged from the report from the doctor. We’ll see what that looks like two weeks from now,” said Vaughn.

Vaughn didn’t weigh in on the update much more than that, though. He didn’t feed any crumbs to those wondering about Durant’s status for the All-Star Game on February 19, which would be his first appearance as a Net:

“Not going to speculate beyond the two weeks. Last time we spoke it was going to be two weeks, kind of shut my mind off from there. [We] got the report yesterday, and we’ll do it again two weeks from now.”

“I want to play tomorrow if I can,” Durant said in talking with the media Tuesday afternoon, his first comments since suffering the injury earlier this month. “So that’s what my sense of urgency is. Obviously, I don’t want to rush anything. I want to make sure I’m 100%. But yeah, I want to play. I want to be a part of all these events.”

Durant, a bit surprisingly, took some responsibility for the seemingly freak injury: “I’ve been through [someone falling on my legs] three times and pretty much every time I was in no man’s land, not guarding my man or not even in help position. I attribute all of that to basically me not being locked in at that moment.”

But just because it may have been avoidable doesn’t mean it’s easier for the future Hall-of-Famer to deal with. The quote of the day came from his response to a question on if he shot around with the bum knee in the early stages of rehab: “Nah, I don’t wanna tease myself like that.”

Durant also gave a more serious, thoughtful answer on his basketball FOMO when asked if he indeed wants to play in the All-Star Game, versus having more time off:

“I want to play tomorrow if I can. So that’s what my sense of urgency is. Obviously I don’t want to rush anything...but yeah, I want to play.” He would add “I want to be a part of all these events, I missed going back to Golden State, my previous home. It’s been three years since I did that; you see all this stuff pass you by when you get injured.”

If there is a positive, no matter how small, to this injury situation, it’s that we get to hear the league’s foremost basketball addict openly contemplate what the game, every nook and cranny of it, means to him. And the quotes from today’s appearance exemplify Durant’s late-career transition into a basketball sage.

“I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, or ‘why me?’ I was just like ‘s**t, another year not playing against my old teammates, another year, at that point, maybe missing the All-Star Game, not playing against LeBron James again at home, stuff like that that I look forward to. On top of just playing every game; I look forward to that stuff as well.”

If there’s one thing Nets fans don’t have to worry about or question, it’s how their all-everything star attacks rehab, his desire to get back on the court and continue playing. In a sea of uncertainty, that’s got to be the slightest of calm waters for Brooklyn supporters to navigate.

And, finally, we ended with a fun tidbit about Durant’s persona while watching games from home.

“No disrespect, I love Meghan [Triplett] but it’s on mute. I love my guys, Sarah [Kustok], I love all y’all, but it’s usually on mute, I’m not too animated, just relaxing I guess.”

Last season, Durant went down around the same time in the season and missed 21 games. Brooklyn went 5-16, including an 11-game losing streak. Durant declined to compare this year’s rehab with last year’s although various reports have indicated that this year’s MCL sprain is not as bad.

Durant said there were too many variables to compare this season to last, when the Nets collapsed after he was hurt last January.

“I’m not even looking at it like that,” Durant said. “It’s a different year, a different time. It looks like the same situation, but it’s a different time. It’s hard to compare anything.

“It’s always tough when one of your main guys goes out the lineup and you’re trying to readjust on the fly like that. It’s going to take some time. It took us four games. Luckily, we still were 12, 13 games over .500, so it was cool to take that little stretch and learn so we could get better moving forward. It was tough to go through, but it was much needed to take those lumps.”

Durant was initially diagnosed with a sprained MCL back on January 9, with the Nets saying their All-everything forward would be re-evaluated in two weeks. With the Nets having traveled on Monday, this was be the first time fans learned about Durant’s progress ... and when he might return.

For Vaughn and maybe Sean Marks, the additional two weeks will provide time for planning things out. Vaughn told reporters in San Francisco that he hasn’t been asking for updates, spending his time on who’s available now.

“Yeah, I really kind of said in two weeks let me know something,” Vaughn said. “So besides that, haven’t asked for update and I’m looking forward to the two-week update.”

Durant did not travel with the team out West, choosing to rehab back in Brooklyn. But according to a report Thursday by TNT’s Jared Greenberg, quoting Marks, Durant was still in a knee brace. That would seem to indicate that there will be no quick return ... and there were reports at the time of the injury that missing four weeks was the most likely scenario.

KD was seen Saturday night at a Drake concert at New York’s Apollo Theater.

The Nets play again on Wednesday in Philadelphia the first time since last season’s big trade that James Harden and Ben Simmons will face off. Then, following a return home to face the Pistons on Thursday, the Nets have a number of big games on the schedule. In order: the Knicks on Saturday, the Lakers on Monday, then a trip to Boston to meet the Celtics on the following Wednesday, February 1, which would also mark four weeks since KD’s initial diagnosis. It gets a little easier after that: Brooklyn has a five-game, nine-day home stretch. Then, February 19 is the All-Star Game in Utah.