Kevin Durant’s latest return is imminent.
The oft-injured superstar is considered “very possible” to resurface in the two-game homestand beginning Friday, according to Nets coach Steve Nash. Durant, 32, missed his second straight game with a quad contusion Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. — temporary home of the Raptors — and has only played in six of the last 35 games.
“He is day-to-day, so I think Friday (against the Celtics) or Sunday (against the Suns) are very possible,” Nash said. “I’m not sure when it would be or if it would be either of those games, but he is day-to-day, so if he keeps progressing at this rate, I think Friday or Sunday are very possible.”
Durant suffered the contusion in just his fifth game back from a hamstring strain, but traveled with the Nets on their road trip to New Orleans and Tampa. With only 11 games remaining in the season, Nash said he’s unsure whether Durant will be on a minutes restriction after returning.
“I haven’t actually thought about it yet,” the coach said. “This is a discussion to have with Kevin and performance and make sure that we’re all on the same page. He was just kind of creeping out of his ramp up. And so how much this sets him back or doesn’t I’m not totally sure. So I think that’s something that we’ll have to monitor and make a decision on when the time comes.”
Durant was joined Wednesday on the inactive list by James Harden (hamstring), Nic Claxton (COVID-19 protocols), Tyler Johnson (knee soreness) and Chris Chiozza (fractured hand). The numbers crunch forced Blake Griffin into action on the second night of a back-to-back, one day after his well-worn legs logged 28 minutes — his most since signing with Nets — in a victory over the Pelicans.
“It’s not ideal, but with the amount of healthy bodies we talked it over and we decided (he would play),” Nash said. “He’s wanted to play in the back-to-backs. We’re going to see how it goes and hopefully we try to limit his minutes but it’s a difficult thing to do in practice, but we definitely don’t want to overexpose him on his first back-to-back in a long time.”
Durant has been predictably spectacular when he’s played with the Nets — averaging 27.3 points on 54% shooting — but managed just 24 games since signing with the Nets in 2019 on a four-year, $164 million deal.