MIAMI — Kevin Durant does not mince words.
He knows his free-falling Nets are in trouble, but he doesn’t believe it’s anything that can’t be fixed.
"We know we’re in some deep [trouble], don’t get me wrong," Durant said before the Nets lost their 11th straight game, falling to the Heat, 115-111, on Saturday night. "But we do understand that with a win, one win, it could put us back on track.
"That’s what it takes in this league. Things can change pretty fast."
They certainly can. When Durant last held a news conference, the Nets were in first place in the Eastern Conference, the Big 3 were intact and the team basically looked unbeatable after destroying a good Chicago team on Jan. 12.
Five days later, Durant sprained his MCL in a game in New Orleans. Though his rehab appears to be going well — he revealed that he has been back on the practice floor for about a week — his team has been sinking without him.
The Nets (29-27) are 2-12 since the Pelicans game. In less than a month, they have fallen from first place in the Eastern Conference to eighth, a play-in position.
Added to all of that, the team went through a major roster shake-up, trading disgruntled All-Star James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks on Thursday.
Durant said he didn’t know that Harden was unhappy until reports started coming out that there was talk of a possible trade.
"I mean, I wasn’t around the team because I was rehabbing and they were on the road for a bit, a couple road trips," Durant said. "So I wasn’t around the team to really, really see the vibe. But I know the losses hurt us, and I know my injury might have hurt the team a bit not being around. And then Kyrie in and out of the lineup. But I didn’t really get a feel for the team because I wasn’t around."
Durant said the trade might take some stress off the Nets, who now know the team they are going to finish with.
"I think it just gives everyone on the team just a sense of security and they’re going to be here and be a part of the group the rest of the season," he said. "I’m sure there was a lot of uncertainty in the locker room about what our future was going to be as a group. So many different things happened as far as injuries and guys in and out of the lineup and COVID.
"It was an up-and-down first half of the season for us, but I think everybody now has kind of settled in on what they need to do. As we get more and more bodies back, we’re starting to figure out our roles and we will just keep going on from there. Everything is a process and we’re looking forward to going through it."
Durant said his rehab is going well. Though he did not promise to be back with the team against Boston — the first game after the All-Star break — he didn’t rule it out, either.
"I feel like any player who’s hurt and their team is struggling, you want to go out there and see how you can help and contribute," he said.
Notes & quotes: Curry and Drummond were with the team in Miami but did not play because the trade did not become official until late in the day . . . So when will fans get to see Simmons in a Nets uniform? He hasn’t played in more than a year, and no one seems quite sure, though Drummond spoke to him on Friday and Saturday and said he is still getting himself ready to play. "Whenever he’s ready, we’ll take him back," Drummond said. "Until then, we’d rather him get himself prepared." Simmons was not with the team on Saturday.