NEW YORK — Sean Marks wanted to be as definitive as he could be about Kevin Durant’s injury. On Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets general manager said that the team would operate as if Durant’s torn Achilles will keep him out for the entire 2019-20 season.
“With Kevin, I think what we’re going to say is the expectations are that he will be out for the year,” Marks said. “We’re not going to plan on him playing.”
This statement, however, is not the same as saying that Durant will absolutely not play. Marks answered several questions about Durant at his press conference, seemingly trying to shut down speculation about a potential early return without declaring that it was impossible. Since the franchise-changing acquisition was made, Marks has said publicly that the Nets would not rush him back and Durant would come back when he feels healthy.
“Nothing’s really changed,” Marks said. “I think this is just an easier way to say that Kevin controls the rehab. He’s attacking this like no other. I’ve been excited to see — I think we all have — how he’s approached this rehab, which has been great. Very refreshing and energizing for the whole group. But at the end of the day this is a long-term plan here. This was never about this next season. This is about getting an elite athlete back to elite physical shape on the court and whatever that takes.”
Marks added that Durant “will have a large say in when he comes back.” If the Nets’ position is that he is out for the season, you might ask, why even bother with the caveat? This could be because Durant, like most players who go through serious injuries, wants to be back as soon as he safely can.
“You’re looking at one of the great competitors out there, so I think I would be remiss if I said, ‘No, he probably doesn’t want to play,'” Marks said. “I think it’s obvious he wants to play, but I think there’s more at stake here. This is, again, a long-term approach. There’s a lot of people with a lot of sweat equity in this from a rehab perspective and so forth. So I think there will be a group that makes the decision and obviously Kevin included as to when and how that return is made.”
Durant has “been supporting our guys” at the practice facility recently, according to Marks, but the general manager said he wasn’t sure if the superstar would accompany the team on their preseason trip to China — the long flights might not be good for his leg. Marks, however, did not completely rule him out for the China trip, either.
Aside from an interview on YouTube and a Wall Street Journal Magazine cover story, Durant has been completely out of the spotlight since joining the Nets. He will talk to reporters in Brooklyn for the first time at Friday’s media day, and then his presence will loom over the team all season, regardless of what his official status is.