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#pounditTuesday, September 29, 2020

Kevin Durant

Nets GM avoids topic of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving returning this season

Kevin Durant

One interesting consequence to the NBA season being postponed is that players who were rehabbing from injuries now have the possibility of returning.

Kevin Durant has been rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon suffered during the NBA Finals last year. Kyrie Irving is rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. With the season pushed back, both players theoretically could be medically cleared to play this year.

Despite the possible clearance, Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks tried to downplay the matter.

“I couldn’t even give an answer on when they’ll be able to play this season,” Marks told reporters on Wednesday, via the New York Post.
“I don’t think that’s fair to those athletes nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. Everyone is dealing with bigger items, far more pressing items.”

Marks also noted that even though the medical timelines now are in sync with the season, the inability of players to go to the team facility may have pushed things back.

Even if the players theoretically could return, we doubt it happens. Kevin Durant’s agent said a summer return was unrealistic.

LeBron James, Kevin Durant among few NBA players already receiving 90 percent of their salary

LeBron James

The current work stoppage has complicated financial matters for most NBA players, but LeBron James and several others are better off than the majority.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Tuesday that players are receiving paychecks on April 1 but have not been assured further payments. Stein also notes that roughly 90 percent of NBA players will have received less than half of their 2019-20 salaries by the time that the April 1 checks go out because they are on 12-month payment plans.

However, James and several other Klutch Sports clients had negotiated “all-you-can-get” deals that pay out 90-plus percent of their 2019-20 salaries by April 1 as part of an accelerated six-month payment schedule. Also included in this group of roughly 20 select players are Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Blake Griffin, among others.

What is also interesting is that the likes of Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell, both of whom signed with Klutch Sports more recently, are not among the ten Klutch players mentioned. Neither is Ben Simmons, who is still technically on his rookie contract (though the same could be said about other players who are listed like Darius Garland and Miles Bridges).

The NBA salary cap and player incomes are already expected to drop because of the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic, and this is yet another negative side effect for the league and the vast majority of their players.

NBA planning players-only ‘NBA 2K’ tournament featuring Kevin Durant, others

Kevin Durant

The NBA may not be able to resume its season in as timely a fashion as it originally hoped, but the league is planning an event that will hopefully give basketball fans something to look forward to.

The NBA is organizing a players-only tournament for the video game “NBA 2K20” that will feature some of the league’s best gamers, including Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell. Sources told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that the 16-player tournament will be broadcast on ESPN and span over 10 days. The goal is for the event to launch on Friday.

Other players taking part in the tournament include DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond. The league is still finalizing the details.

The White House recently extended its social distancing guidelines through April 30, and many states have issued “shelter-in-place” orders as the coronavirus continues to spread. It seems unlikely that the NBA or any other sports league will resume play before June, which is why we have seen leagues exploring other ways to keep fans entertained. A video game tournament is certainly better than nothing.

Ex-Warriors teammate gives encouraging Kevin Durant update

Kevin Durant

Quinn Cook is providing an encouraging update on the Kevin Durant front.

Appearing Friday on NBC Sports Washington’s “Wizards Talk” podcast, the Los Angeles Lakers guard said his former Golden State Warriors teammate Durant is “doing great” in the wake of his positive test for the coronavirus.

“He’s good. He’s good,” said Cook. “His spirits are good. K is in great spirits, still being K, man. Low, mellow, chill, moving at his own pace.”

“He’s just encouraging social distancing, staying inside and don’t expose others,” Cook added about Durant. “For him to step up to the plate and use his platform to spread awareness, it’s brave. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s fine. He’s doing great.”

Cook, who was teammates with Durant on the Warriors for two seasons in a stretch that netted two Finals appearances and one championship, is currently on 14-day quarantine with the rest of his current Lakers teammates. Durant was one of four Brooklyn Nets who tested positive for the disease, and they faced the Lakers in their final game before the suspension of the NBA season on Mar. 11. The Lakers have since had two unnamed players test positive for the coronavirus as well.

The two Maryland natives have been called “best friends,” so Cook’s update about Durant is especially weighty and reassuring.

Drake self-isolating after partying with Kevin Durant

World-famous rapper and Toronto Raptors ambassador Drake is taking precautionary steps after recently hanging out with Kevin Durant.

Sara Nathan of Page Six reported on Wednesday that the four-time Grammy winner is self-isolating in his Toronto mansion after he partied with Durant in West Hollywood, Calif. last week. The Brooklyn Nets star confirmed Tuesday that he was one of four players on the team to test positive for the coronavirus.

The Nets played the Lakers in Los Angeles on Mar. 10, and while Durant is still recovering from an Achilles tear, he was in attendance for the road game.

Earlier this week, Drake posted a video of his apparent home basketball court to Instagram and wrote “My life for the next however long” in the caption.

The “Marvin’s Room” singer is particularly tight with Durant, so it makes perfect sense for him to exercise caution, especially since they were together so close to Durant’s diagnosis.

Kevin Durant among Nets who tested positive for coronavirus

Kevin Durant

Four members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the coronavirus, and it turns out one of them is a huge name.

Kevin Durant confirmed to Shams Charania of The Athletic that he is one of the four Nets who has the virus. He appears to be one of the three members of the team who is currently asymptomatic.

The Nets announced four positive tests Tuesday afternoon. We do not know the identities of the three other players.

Durant immediately becomes the biggest NBA name to test positive. The Nets haven’t played the Utah Jazz or Detroit Pistons, who also have players with positive tests. Even if they had, Durant hasn’t been playing in games. The fact that we don’t know where Durant and the Nets contracted the virus demonstrates just how important it is that everyone remains very careful at this time as the virus spreads through communities.

Kevin Durant’s agent: ‘Not realistic’ to expect return in summer

Kevin Durant

The indefinite suspension of the NBA season has seemingly opened the door for Kevin Durant to potentially return at some point when play resumes, but Rich Kleiman is not optimistic about it.

Appearing Monday on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo,” Kleiman, Durant’s agent and manager, threw some cold water on the idea of a summer return for the former NBA MVP.

“Honestly, [it’s] not very realistic from my standpoint, and not even spoken about,” said Kleiman. “It feels like [Durant playing in 2019-20] clearly was not something that was in the cards prior to all this. And now, I think just like the rest of the world, it’s hard to take anything more than day by day.

“I think Kevin is going to figure out the space he needs to be in to continue to rehab during this time,” Kleiman added. “But even that is hard to answer at this point, with the new kind of rules that were put in place last night.”

Kleiman was referring to the recommendation issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday that events or gatherings for the next eight weeks should have no more than 50 people. That would obviously impact the timeline along which the NBA might be able to resume play.

In context though, some interpreted Kleiman’s response as indicating that too much is up in the air right now to go by anything beyond a day-to-day basis.

Durant ruptured his right Achilles on Jun. 10 in an NBA Finals game as a member of the Golden State Warriors before signing with the Brooklyn Nets in July. He still appears to be affecting team business off the court, but we may not see him actually playing again for a while longer, the opportunity to even play notwithstanding.

Kevin Durant will make return to Golden State for first time since signing with Nets

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has not played in a game yet for the Brooklyn Nets and will have to wait until next season to make his debut, but he is still planning to face the music when the team travels to Golden State this week to take on the Warriors.

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters Durant will accompany the Nets for the remaining three games of their four-game road trip, which includes a stop in Golden State on Thursday night. According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, the Warriors were previously told Durant would not be making the trip.

Durant has yet to visit the Chase Center, as the arena opened this year and Thursday will be the first time Durant returns to the Bay Area since he left the Warriors in free agency last summer. As Slater noted, it’s not a certainty that fans will even have an opportunity to express their feelings toward Durant. The NBA is still considering playing games without fans due to the coronavirus outbreak, which we now know could cost a team like the Warriors a ton of money.

If there are fans at the Chase Center, we can expect a mix of boos and cheers for Durant. It’s hard to imagine fans showing hostility toward a player who won two NBA Finals MVP awards with the team, but some may not appreciate the way Durant has complained about the treatment he received from his former teammates.

Report: Kevin Durant had some influence in Kenny Atkinson being pushed out

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant has not played in a game with the Brooklyn Nets and will wait until next season to debut with his new team, but the two-time NBA Finals MVP may have already played a major role in shaping the direction of the franchise.

The Nets announced on Saturday that they have mutually parted ways with Kenny Atkinson, but all indications have been that the coach was pushed out after failing to connect with his new star players. Kyrie Irving is said to have “soured” on Atkinson early on, and Durant was reportedly less than thrilled with the coach as well.

According to a new report from Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, Atkinson told his players and staff after last Wednesday’s 39-point blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies that it was time for everyone to air their grievances. A spirited team meeting followed, and Durant spoke up about the bad habits he has seen and told the Nets they were not showing the proper traits needed to become a title contender. As The Athletic described, Durant’s lecture may have been the “most critical thing” that happened in the meeting.

Like Irving, Durant reportedly never made a connection with Atkinson. You could argue that it would be difficult for him to do that without playing, but watching from a distance may have given Durant an even better understanding of how things were going. Apparently Durant didn’t like what he saw, and The Athletic reports that there was a “growing belief that (Durant and Irving) did not have interest in playing for (Atkinson) when this team is whole again next season.”

The Nets were doing well and had improved each year under Atkinson before Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan arrived. It’s obvious that the dynamic changed once the superstars established themselves, and Atkinson even seemed to acknowledge that.

Now, the Nets have the difficult task of trying to find a coach who can connect with some high-maintenance stars while also developing younger players. They seemed to understand that they were taking that risk when they signed Irving.

Report: Kyrie Irving soured on Kenny Atkinson, wants Ty Lue as Nets coach

Kyrie Irving Nets

The Brooklyn Nets ushered in a new era when they signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant over the summer, and they are going to end up with a new coach now too.

Kenny Atkinson and the Nets announced Saturday that they have mutually parted ways during what was Atkinson’s fourth season as the team’s head coach. A report said some Nets players wanted Atkinson fired. The coach acknowledged his voice was no longer as powerful as it once was.

Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill wrote an article on Saturday saying as much. He says Irving “soured” on Atkinson early on and wants his former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, Ty Lue, as the Nets’ next coach. Lue is currently an assistant with the Clippers.

What the Nets had built was attractive to Durant and Irving and played a big role in convincing them to sign with the team. But the culture of the team changed from young, unproven players to one with proven All-Stars when Durant and Irving joined, and it sounds like Irving was not buying into Atkinson’s ways. That helps explain why Atkinson would have been just as agreeable to leave since he felt powerless.

So far, we’ve seen Irving force a trade away from Cleveland; blow up the team chemistry in Boston; and now get a coach fired in Brooklyn. The Nets knew adding Irving was risky. Now it’s up to Kyrie and Durant to show next season that they were worth the investment.