The NBA’s most prolific scorer will officially miss its most high-profile game.
Kevin Durant still hasn’t cleared health and safety protocols, and Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said he’s expected to miss the Christmas Day clash with the Lakers.
With the Nets and Lakers pegged as favorites to win the NBA title before the season started and featuring star-studded lineups, their nationally-televised matchup was slated for 8 p.m. on ABC – the prime fixture of the year.
But the Lakers will be without All-Star big man Anthony Davis, while the Nets are going to be without Durant and Kyrie Irving, both still in protocols. James Harden is expected to play.
“It’s a game that both teams want to win, no matter what circumstances. Is it going to be one of the premier games that I’m accustomed to playing on Christmas Day? No. So many guys out,” LeBron James said. “You know this whole protocol thing has gotten a lot worse for a lot of the teams in the league right now.”
Durant is averaging 29.7 points, on pace for his fifth scoring title. And while Irving hasn’t played all season due to his refusal to adhere to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates – and will need a ramp up that will keep him out for this two-game Los Angeles swing – there is at least some hope for Durant.
If Durant tests out of protocols in time, there is the possibility he could join the team in California for Monday’s game against the Clippers.
And with the league and NBPA reportedly close to shortening the quarantine time for health & safety protocols down from 10 days to just six – following the NFL’s lead – if it gets done immediately, Nash couldn’t rule out the possibility of that opening a slim chance for Durant.
“I honestly don’t know what the rule change will be or how it will affect us. But I guess anything’s possible and we’ll see when the time comes,” said Nash. “But right now I couldn’t answer that.”