At the very end of what Nets coach Kenny Atkinson called a “training camp type of practice” on Wednesday, Kevin Durant stood at the far end of the court and was shooting near the free-throw line.
Durant got up on his toes as he released the shots. Most of them went in.
Atkinson noticed. And it made him smile.
“I just like hanging out with him and watching that ball just go in every time,” Atkinson said. “It’s amazing. It’s just a thing of beauty watching him shoot.”
Durant took the pressure off any kind of daily updates about his Nets debut when he said last week that’s he not expecting to come back this season. Still . . .
“I think what he said is the best thing — don’t expect him back,” Atkinson said. “That’s kind of where we are . . . I don’t want to give you any information that says, ‘Oh, he’s this far’ and I’m wrong.”
Spencer Dinwiddie took it one step further when asked how Durant looked to him.
“I can’t neither confirm nor deny how Kevin Durant is looking,” he said. “The FBI agent that is [general manager] Sean Marks will show up at my crib.”
So for now, Durant will quietly rehab the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in June and act as a mentor and unofficial coach, at least when the Nets are home. The team will miss Durant’s presence when it leaves on Thursday for a western swing that opens at Portland on Friday.
“He gets in our coaches’ huddles, especially when it gets tough,” Atkinson said. “I think he picks his spots, when to say something. He’s pretty quiet, but when he has to say something he’ll step up in the film room or in a timeout. He’s just got a really good feel for that. I could see someone coming in and being loud and boisterous. He could be that guy. He has every right to be that guy with his knowledge, but he’s just struck the right chord, the right balance of interjecting himself.”
Nets fans will one day get to see Durant play with Kyrie Irving. For now, Durant is doing what he can to be a factor without getting on the court when it counts.
“The great thing about Kyrie and Kevin — they’re all about basketball,” Atkinson said. “From my perspective. Maybe I’m not attuned to the outside world as much and the drama — don’t read enough — but in this environment they are two guys that are obsessed with the game. And I mean obsessed in the best sense. That’s the interaction I have with them. I think that’s their comfort level, too. I think that’s when it seems like they’re happiest, when they’re in this environment and talking ball — and not just the Nets, but talking about the league or shot selection or in the film room.”
Jordan day-to-day. Center DeAndre Jordan (ankle) is day-to-day, Atkinson said. Nicolas Claxton — who could play if Jordan is out — and Henry Ellenson were called up from the Long Island Nets and practiced with the team.