Injured forward Kevin Durant talks to reporters at Nets practice...

Injured forward Kevin Durant talks to reporters at Nets practice on Jan. 24, 2023. Credit: Newsday/Barbara Barker

Kevin Durant knew right away what had happened.

The moment Jimmy Butler crashed into his right knee and Durant felt a sickeningly familiar pain, he was sure the news wasn’t going to be good.

“I knew that I would be missing some time,” Durant said Tuesday in his first news conference since spraining his right MCL in Miami on Jan. 8.

How much time? That remained the big question Tuesday.

It’s clear that he will be out at least another two weeks as the Nets announced that’s when he will be re-evaluated medically on Feb. 7. The question is whether that re-evaluation clears the way for him to play in the All-Star Game on Feb. 19. Considering that he has just been cleared to begin running and on-court basketball activities, that could be a tough call.

Durant, the leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference when he was injured in Miami, has missed three straight All-Star Games because of injuries. He said Tuesday he’d like to play in the game if he can.

“I want to play tomorrow if I can,” Durant said. “Obviously I don’t want to rush anything. I want to make sure I’m 100%. But yeah, I want to play in it. 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. You see all this stuff pass you by so I want to participate in everything. I know I got to take my time and make sure I do my rehab and get back on the floor.”

Durant missed last year’s All-Star Game with a similar injury to his left knee. The year before, he had a hamstring injury, so he has never played in an All-Star Game in a Nets uniform. Durant is now the No. 2 vote-getter behind Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.

It’s understandable, however, that the Nets might want to be cautious with their franchise player.

There are only four games between the day he is re-evaluated and the All-Star break. If he were to sit out those games and the All-Star Game, he wouldn’t be in a game again until the Nets open up the unofficial second half of the season in Chicago on Feb. 24. That would give Durant a total of more than six weeks to heal before getting back on the court.

Durant missed six weeks last year with the similar injury, and the Nets never really recovered. The Nets were 5-16 during that stretch, which included an 11-game losing streak.

This year’s team appears to be faring somewhat better. After losing their first four games without Durant, the Nets scored two big wins over Utah and Golden State in their last two games. The Nets will play the 76ers, who are a game ahead of the fourth-place Nets, Wednesday in Philadelphia.

It marks the third time in his career that Durant has had such a knee injury; he also suffered one in 2017. On Tuesday, he offered a description of what an MCL sprain feels like that could have only been offered by an expert.

“It’s weird. It’s like a scar,” he said. “It feels like you got cut. It’s like a sharp pain, [and then] a dull pain. It’s one of those things where after a few days the pain goes away and then it’s about the range of motion and function of your knee and not being able to be on the court. And it sets you back a little bit.”

Durant said he was more annoyed at himself for not avoiding the injury than he was upset that it happened.

“Yeah, but I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself like, ‘Why me?' I was just like [expletive], another year of not playing against my old teammates. Another year of maybe missing the All-Star Game and not playing against LeBron James at home. Stuff like that that I look forward to."


More Brooklyn Nets

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months