Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Nets GM Sean Marks said on Tuesday that the organization isn't planning on All Star Kevin Durant returning this season.
"With Kevin, I think what we're going to say is the expectations are that he'll be out for the year," Marks said at his pre-training camp press conference. "We're not going to plan on him playing. His rehab will obviously be predetermined over the course of the next few months, how he goes with the performance team, but ultimately Kevin will have a large say in when he comes back and how he's feeling. The expectation now is for him to be out for the year."
Durant underwent surgery to repair a torn right Achilles in June. There is no clear timetable for his return, though Marks said Durant is attacking his rehab aggressively.
In July, Marks said it was too early to say definitively whether Durant would return during the 2019-20 season. He said on Tuesday that nothing had changed since that press conference, adding "this is just an easier way to say that Kevin controls the rehab."
"He's attacking this (rehab) like no other," Marks said. "I've been excited to see it, I think we all have, how he's approached this rehab, which has been great, very refreshing and energizing to the whole group. At the end of the day, this is a long-term plan here. This was never about this next season. This is about getting an elite athlete back to elite physical shape on the court whatever that takes."
In interviews given in recent weeks, Durant has declined to rule himself in or out for the coming season. Marks was asked on Tuesday if the 30-year-old expressed a desire to the organization to play this season.
"I think you're looking at one of the great competitors out there so I think I'd be remiss if I said he probably doesn't want to play. I think it's obvious he wants to play," Marks said. "But I think there's more at stake here. This is, again, a long-term approach. There's a lot of people with a lot of sweat equity in this from the rehab perspective and so forth, so I think it will be a group that makes the decision and obviously Kevin included as to when and how that return is made."
Durant signed a four-year, $164 million deal with Brooklyn in the offseason, joining his friend and fellow star Kyrie Irving.
When he injured his Achilles in the NBA Finals, there were reports that Durant felt that Golden State hadn't handled the situation well. Durant said recently that he didn't have any issue with how the Warriors handled his injury. Marks said he hasn't discussed the situation with Durant because it's in the past.
"I don't think he wants to talk about it. We certainly don't. That's in the past. I think there's definitely things we can all learn, and we are strategic with how a lot of guys have returned to play from these injuries, so to speak," Marks said. "But I think where Kevin is focused is right here. He's focused on his rehab, we're focused on putting the best people around him to help him and make sure that rehab goes to plan."
Irving to see doctor after getting elbowed during pick-up game
While Marks was talking with reporters, Kenny Atkinson -- who was initially scheduled to be part of the same press availability -- was accompanying Kyrie Irving to the doctor after Irving took an elbow during a pick-up game.
"It literally happened 30 minutes ago. I wouldn't want to speculate at all (on the severity of the injury)," Marks said. "I think this is just a case of doing due diligence, Kyrie goes and gets checked out like we would do with anyone else and we always send staff with them. This is a great opportunity for Kenny to be with him too."
Marks praised Irving for 'religiously' participating in team pickup games in recent weeks.
"The leadership, the work ethic and the competitive nature that he has brought to the group has been terrific," Marks said.
Irving joins the Nets after a season in Boston that fell below everyone's expectations. It's impossible to say what torpedoed the Celtics last season, but pundits pointed to Irving's role as leader of the team as one factor. (Gordon Hayward not playing up to expectation certainly factored in as well, I think.) So Marks was asked on Tuesday about leadership for this group, which is relevant because Irving will be the biggest star on the roster until Durant returns.
"I think someone will organically take charge. One thing Kenny has done here from Day One is that he's had a leadership group and it's never been up to one or two people," Marks said. "The leaders will rise to the occasion and Kenny's very good at figuring out who they are and empowering them. Again, we go back to saying how it's a player's league, these guys want to have ownership. You name how we fly, the hotels we stay in, what plays we're running out of an ATO. (And) these guys have been around a long time. There's not many defenses, whether it's Kevin or Kyrie, haven't seen thrown at them. So, from a leadership perspective, on the court but also off the court… Kyrie, Garrett (Temple), Kevin, (DeAndre Jordan) - all the guys that have come in this year that are going to be able to contribute to that."
Marks said he preferred that Atkinson talked about on-court comparisons between Irving and former Nets point guard D'Angelo Russell.
"I think it's well-versed as to what Kyrie brings in terms of his speed and athleticism and shooting touch and vice versa. And then same thing, what we'll miss from not having D'Angelo around as well," Marks said. "We wish D'Lo all the best, but we're obviously pretty excited about having Kyrie in here."