The Nets' Kevin Durant looks on against the Suns at Barclays Center...

The Nets' Kevin Durant looks on against the Suns at Barclays Center on Feb. 3. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

For the first time since signing injured superstar Kevin Durant in free agency last summer, Nets general manager Sean Marks recently opened the door to a possible return from Achilles tendon surgery if the NBA resumes its season. Marks made his comments to NewsHub, a website based in his native New Zealand.

When the season began, Marks originally ruled out the prospect of Durant playing after undergoing right Achilles tendon surgery last June. Shortly before the NBA season halted on March 11 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Durant’s progress was evident in glimpses of his workouts on the practice court and in views posted on social media of him scrimmaging one-on-one. Durant even gave an interview in which he said he had scrimmaged five-on-five with full contact.

Still, Marks downplayed the notion of a return, as did Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman. But when Marks was asked by NewsHub if the delay caused by the coronavirus might open the door for Durant to return in the late summer, Marks shifted gears.

“That’s a $110 million question,” Marks told NewsHub, a slightly off-the-mark reference to the remaining $123 million Durant is owed for the final three seasons of his four-year deal.

“We’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot. He knows his body better than anybody. Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him to this point, but I just don’t know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.

“When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back. When the timing is right, he’ll be 100% when he gets on the court.”

Although Durant might be healthy enough to return, it might be a risk jumping into a playoff setting. Also, fellow superstar Kyrie Irving is coming back from shoulder surgery, and the  Nets, currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference at 30-34, would have to face the defending champion Raptors.

There are many variables, but Marks clearly is pleased with Durant’s progress. “I can tell you this,” he said. “Before the pandemic, he looked like Kevin Durant, and that’s a good thing.”

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