For much, if not all, of the coming season, All-Star forward Kevin Durant will be part of the background with the Nets while he works at rehabbing from right Achilles tendon surgery. But during a timeout late in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ opening one-point overtime loss to the Timberwolves Wednesday night at Barclays Center, Durant got up from his place on the bench and joined the coaching stuff huddled around head coach Kenny Atkinson.
“He came out, critical moment, there’s Kevin Durant,” Atkinson said on Thursday. “It’s like a two-point game and there’s Kevin, just kind of saunters out. I said, ‘You got anything?’ And he’s like, ‘No.’ He’s just listening. He’s trying to absorb how we think, how we operate. Personally, I like it. I think it’s great.”
During training camp, Atkinson said Durant will be an important presence on the practice court and in the locker room simply because of who he is and all he has accomplished as a two-time NBA Finals MVP. And when Durant spoke at the team's media day, he talked about how he scouted Atkinson on YouTube during free agency to gain an understanding of his approach as a head coach.
So, when Atkinson was asked following practice on Thursday if Durant is not simply taking a year off to get better but is actively involved, the coach said, “Yes. There’s no false hustle there. He loves the game and loves to be around it, loves to talk about it. I even called him after the game. ‘Give me some more feedback.’
“I’ve always done that with players. I think sometimes they see things that you don’t. His big thing was, ‘Coach, don’t overreact to one game.’ I think the first half we were out of sync and played much better in the second half. He said, ‘We outscored them in the second half, right?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ Those conversations are great.”