When the NBA announced its decision to return to play and finish out the 2019-2020 season, many people had the same question: “Could the Nets be a contender in the Eastern Conference playoffs?”
They made two gigantic acquisitions last offseason by acquiring Kevin Durant in a sign-and-trade and signing Kyrie Irving, but the two haven’t been able to share the court. Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon with the Warriors during Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals and had planned to sit out the ’19-20 season. Irving played in 20 games this season before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him to have surgery on March 1.
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A Durant return became realistic when the NBA voted to end its COVID-19 hiatus on July 31. KD was injured on June 11, 2019 — meaning nearly a full year has passed, which is roughly the normal timetable for recovering from an Achilles injury. Given that it will have been more than 13 months since the injury when plays resumes, it seemed entirely plausible that he might be able to give it a go.
But Durant shot down that possibility in an interview with The Undefeated’s Mark Spears on Friday.
“My season is over,” Durant said. “I don’t plan on playing at all. We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season.”
Durant said that the rehabilitation process has been going well for him and he’s “feeling like a normal player again.” But he isn’t in any rush to play again.
“It’s just best for me to wait,” he said. “I don’t think I’m ready to play that type of intensity right now in the next month. It gives me more time to get ready for next season and the rest of my career.”
Irving’s return was always going to be doubtful. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he said on a National Basketball Players’ Association conference call Friday that he will not return to the court, though he may join the team as an inactive player to support his teammates.