Nets’ Kevin Durant doesn’t ‘want to rush anything’ with injury

Kevin Durant’s rehab is on schedule, even if the schedule does not include a definitive return date.

Two weeks after suffering an MCL sprain, Durant is “progressing well and as expected,” the Nets said Tuesday, and he will be re-evaluated in another two weeks.

Durant saw Dr. Riley Williams III at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Monday, and the team said the doctor is “very pleased” with Durant’s recovery.

“Sounds like everything’s headed in the right direction,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said after his Nets practiced in Brooklyn.

In another two weeks, Durant will have missed nearly a month after suffering the right knee injury on Jan. 8. Durant, who has not been traveling with the team, will continue to strengthen his knee and begin running and on-court basketball activities this week.

After his next checkup — which will come before the Nets host the Suns on Feb. 7 — will he be ready to play?

“Who knows? I’m not sure. I rested the last couple of weeks,” Durant said in his first public comments since sustaining the injury. “Hopefully I’m on that same path. You never know. I just want to take it a day at a time and keep putting in the work and hopefully I will feel better [Wednesday], and I’ll see you in two weeks and I’ll give you a better update then.”


Kevin Durant
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The Nets dropped four in a row without Durant before winning two straight to calm some nerves around the team. Last January, the Nets plummeted once Durant hurt his knee, going 5-16 to tumble down the standings, which he has said helped lead to his offseason trade request.

After uplifting victories in Utah and San Francisco over the Warriors, this season’s Nets, which now include Kyrie Irving without vaccine complications, are hoping to prove this is a different squad.

“It looks like the same situation, but it’s a different time. It’s hard to compare anything,” said Durant, who will miss at least seven more games. “It’s always tough when one of your main guys goes out [of] 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.”

The NBA All-Star Game will be in Salt Lake City on Feb. 19, nearly two weeks after Durant’s next scheduled doctor’s appointment. In the most recent tally of fan votes, Durant was the second-leading vote-getter (behind Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo) in the Eastern Conference.

Durant, who has not played in an All-Star Game since he was the game’s MVP in 2019, wants to participate.

“I want to play tomorrow if I can. So, that’s what my sense of urgency is,” said Durant, who missed last year’s festivities because of his knee injury and the previous season’s game because of a hamstring strain, which followed a missed season due to an Achilles tear. “Obviously I don’t want to rush anything. I want to make sure I’m 100 percent. But yeah, I want to play. I want to be a part of all these events.

“I missed going back to Golden State, my previous home. So, it’s been three years since I did that.”

Durant endured the injury in Miami, where Jimmy Butler fell awkwardly into Durant’s knee after Butler was blocked by Ben Simmons. This is Durant’s third MCL sprain, having missed 19 games with the Warriors in 2017 following the injury and 21 games last season.

He knew he had suffered the injury right away but was relieved it is less severe than his previous sprains.


Nets
Kevin Durant battles Jimmy Butler for the ball during a game on Jan. 8.
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“I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself like, ‘Why me?” I was just like, ‘S–t, another year of not playing against my old teammates [with the Warriors],’” said Durant, who is averaging 29.7 points per game. “Another year of at that point maybe missing the All-Star Game and not playing against LeBron James at home. Stuff like that that I look forward to.”

After three of the same, significant injuries that probably cannot be avoided, Durant looked back at the play and wondered what he could have done differently. He relived Butler slicing into the paint past Seth Curry, where Simmons helped rather than Durant.

“I was just standing there watching,” Durant said. “I wasn’t even guarding my man. I wasn’t even hitting nobody, so I should have ran and doubled and got Seth off of Jimmy there, and maybe that wouldn’t have happened.”