Will Nets superstar Kevin Durant return if the NBA resumes play this summer, or won’t he? The season-long saga of Durant’s recovery from Achilles tendon surgery last June took another turn when Rich Kleiman, Durant’s business partner and adviser, sought to tamp down talk of a comeback this season during an appearance Thursday on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
Earlier this week, Nets general manager Sean Marks seemed to open the door to the possibility of a Durant return this season in an interview he did with NewsHub, a website in his native New Zealand. Marks described that notion as “a $110 million question,” but then cautioned, “I just don’t know how coming out of this (COVID-19) pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.”
Kleiman previously said the possibility of a Durant return this season is unlikely, and in the interview with hosts Frank Isola and Wes Wilcox, he stuck to that view when asked if the delay to the season caused by the coronavirus might give Durant time to be ready to play in July.
“From my standpoint, no,” Kleiman said. “I think it’s unrealistic. That’s just my view on it. We haven’t gotten deep into the conversation about it because of how unrealistic it all seems to me. I figure that, if something changed, he would tell me.
“And it’s also hard to even discuss in a real serious manner without any information on the season. It still feels there’s such uncertainty day to day. Outside of just the NBA, the whole thing just feels too unrealistic from my standpoint.”
There have been indications Durant’s rehabilitation has progressed very well. Before the interruption of the NBA schedule, Durant was taking part in scrimmages with contact. So, Kleiman expressed confidence when asked if Durant can return at his same superstar level.
“I think he’s always been in the smallest group – one, two, three, at most – of the top players in the league in people’s minds,” Kleiman said. “Obviously, I’m biased. But I think he’ll be better, to be honest.
“His game has never been completely reliant on athletic ability, though he’s got incredible athletic ability. His skill set is off the charts in terms of just scouting, and his intelligence for the game is at an all-time high…Having a year off and watching so much film and you saw how close he was to the team, I mean, he’s a hoop junkie. I think maybe you’ll see just a new version.
“It may look the exact same, but…you saw in the Bay [with the Warriors], when he was playing a lot of point [forward], he was an incredible distributor, he’s great in the pick and roll, he can read the defense well, he can protect the rim. So, I think you’ll see a completely well-rounded, better version of him.”