Nets forward Kevin Durant looks on before a free throw...

Nets forward Kevin Durant looks on before a free throw against the Spurs in the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Jan. 9, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

One of the league’s top MVP candidates won’t be at the All-Star Game for the second year running.

Kevin Durant, who sprained his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in mid-January, is expected to miss the All-Star Game on Feb. 20, according to several reports and will continue rehabbing even afterward.

Durant leads the fan vote for Eastern Conference frontcourt players and was the third leading vote-getter overall, trailing only LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Durant almost surely would have been a starter.

Though the Nets have never given a timetable on his return, Durant was expected to miss about four to six weeks with the injury, meaning that, at best, his return will come at the tail end of the time frame. At worst, it could extend beyond that and be a problem as the Nets prepare for the postseason.

And though the rotation has seen a lot of turnaround already this season, Nash said he hoped it would come back to help them when it counted. With James Harden out with left hamstring tightness Wednesday, the Nets put out their 24th different starting lineup of the season.

"It’s hard to have consistent rotations when we have different guys out every night or every week or whatever it may be, [but] what can that afford us?" Nash said. "What can we learn from that and how can we grow from that, how can we spin that and be positive, so whenever the day comes that we do have some kind of consistency and health. We’ve learned about ourselves and we’ve put ourselves in a position that when we’re fully healthy, we’re further down the road than just like it’s all brand new.

"That’s our challenge — not necessarily looking at wins and losses every day but what’s our process? How are we improving? What are we taking from these different variances of our team and how can we move this thing forward regardless of who’s available and who’s not?"

Claxton out with hamstring tightness

Nic Claxton sat out Wednesday with left hamstring tightness, though Nash said it was more of a precaution, especially since the Nets were playing at the tail end of a back-to-back. He expects Claxton to return Saturday against Golden State.

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