Kevin Durant missed his fifth straight game Tuesday with a strained left hamstring. And though the Nets have offered no definitive timeline for his return, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said he expects his star back before the All-Star break.
“Yeah, I do,” said Nash. “But again, we’re just trying to monitor and be cautious. We definitely have kind of slowed things down in that respect — not putting any pressure on him, not trying to rush him back in any capacity and just make sure that we give him the right amount of time to be more than healed, to be strong and conditioned to come back to the team.
“So we’re monitoring it. We’re not in a rush. But I don’t think he’ll be out until the All-Star break.”
After Tuesday’s game vs. the Kings, the Nets have four more games before the break: the Magic, Mavericks, Spurs and Rockets. With the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta and Durant the captain of the Eastern Conference squad — Team Durant — it begs the question of whether he and his hamstring would be better suited skipping the event altogether.
“As far as Kevin goes, I don’t know,” Nash said. “I don’t know. I haven’t discussed that. I’m not sure how the league would approach that. So I probably couldn’t say anything meaningful on that one.”
Durant has been so stellar this season it’s easy to forget he missed 18 months with a June 2019 ruptured Achilles. Between the hamstring and a COVID-19 contact tracing quarantine, he’s missed eight of the past nine games, his only appearance leading the Nets to a Feb. 13 win in his return to Golden State.
“Obviously we don’t want to rush that because there’s a bigger picture,” James Harden said.
“We want Kevin to be 100 percent healthy whenever he’s out there. We don’t want to rush him back,” DeAndre Jordan said. “It’s not worth it to rush him back at this point. We want to make sure he’s completely healthy, and whenever he’s back we can insert him right back into the lineup. He’s Kevin Durant.”
Jordan is coming off an energetic outing in the Sunday win at the Clippers, with a season-high-tying 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting, 11 rebounds and a season-high-tying four blocks. Nash said that’s what an engaged Jordan should look like.
“He’s been competing,” Nash said. “He’s been really locked-in and been active and competing, and with his size and athleticism, he’s going to produce and have numbers when he has that type of energy and that feeling that he’s enjoying himself and playing with everything he has. When he does that, he’s really, really good.”
Tyler Johnson (left adductor tightness) and Iman Shumpert (left hamstring strain) were available Tuesday. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (right hip contusion) was out, but Nash said he didn’t expect the his injury to be long term.