Kristian Winfield: Still no sense in having Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving try to return to Nets this season

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — The coronavirus pandemic has forced the Brooklyn Nets’ two injured superstars to change how they rehab.

Kevin Durant had been doing a good chunk of his injury rehab out of the team’s HSS Training Facility in Industry City. So was Kyrie Irving.

That facility is now closed due to the pandemic.

Marks said he knows both Irving and Durant are continuing their rehab at home, but they’re doing so while practicing social distancing and self-isolation.

Durant was one of four Nets players to test positive for the coronavirus, though Marks also said on the call that the players, along with everyone in the Nets organization, are now symptom-free.

“I haven’t physically seen them in three or four weeks. It is difficult for me to gauge along with the performance team as to where they are,” he said. “We are talking to them. We are FaceTiming them and so forth, but it is quite different to having those guys on the court. And they know their bodies better than anybody else. So, at the right time and when they are 100 percent and when they’re up for it, I am sure they will be making those decisions.”

Whether the season resumes next week, next month or as far out as June or July, there remains no sense in bringing either of the injured stars back to the rotation. Not without a head coach. Not without a complete roster. Not without a legitimate shot at winning it all.

There is no such shot for the Nets whenever this season resumes, even if Durant and Irving return near or at full strength. For that reason, there is no sense in risking re-injury in a season that can’t bear the fruit the Nets want to enjoy.

Chemistry, or lack thereof, has been the biggest issue in Brooklyn this season. Bringing in two stars under an interim head coach alongside players with admittedly uncertain futures in Brooklyn, is not a recipe for winning a championship. There is no sense in building chemistry with players who may very well be wearing different jerseys next season.

Theoretically, a June or July return would mark a one-year Achilles rehab period for Durant. Achilles tears generally take a maximum of one year to return to full strength. Durant is far further along in his injury rehab than Irving, an injury-prone aggressive scorer who underwent shoulder surgery a month ago.

Irving has only played more than 70 games in three of his nine seasons in the NBA and has had injury troubles dating back to a toe injury that ended his only season at Duke eight games in. He has sustained three separate injuries (orbital fracture, right shoulder impingement and right knee sprain) since signing in Brooklyn.

No timetable was provided for his rehab, but he is expected to make a full recovery and return next season.

Next season should be circled on the calendar, not next month or the month after. The Nets are gunning for a championship. That’s the only acceptable outcome of the Durant and Irving era in Brooklyn — at the bare minimum, several trips to the NBA Finals. Anything less is a disappointment, and not just for fans, but for two stars who have won rings elsewhere.

Time is of the essence, and so is health. Durant and Irving signed four-year deals over the summer, and we’re already about to be in Year 2. The first season saw no games from Durant and just a handful of games from Irving.

There is no sense in risking an encore of this season.


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