Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are back at full health, making the Nets a potentially dangerous team entering the new NBA season.
But don’t expect either athlete to play in every single game on Brooklyn’s schedule.
“I would say there’s no plan in place, but it’s probably unlikely that they both play 72 games,” Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters Tuesday, via CBS Sports. “It’s been such a layoff for both of them, and in particular Kevin with coming off one of the toughest injuries to deal with as a basketball player. We have to be very careful with him and his adaptation process back into the game.”
Durant and Irving are coming off two very different injuries entering the 2020-21 campaign. Irving has battled shoulder problems since joining the Nets via free agency in July 2019 and underwent season-ending surgery in February to address the issue.
Durant, meanwhile, has been out since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals in which he suffered an Achillies injury on his right side. He has yet to play a game for the Nets since signing with with the team in July 2019, as well.
Nash is pleased with the progress both players have made of late, especially Durant.
“Kevin’s done everything you could’ve ever asked to put himself in this position. He is truly a gift for all of us with not only his talent but his love for the game and the joy he brings in the building every day. Perhaps we have to protect him from himself in a way because he brings so much joy and passion to the sport. He’s so eager and hungry after such a long layoff in his prime. He’s done all the hard work, and he’s put himself in this position, and now we have to make sure that it’s sustainable adaptation and that he’s able to stay the course and play the long game.”
Nash certainly has a lot on his plate with Durant and Irving as a rookie head coach. On top of their recent injuries, it’s unclear what kind of chemistry the duo has on the court. The team likely will go through a bit of an adjustment period to kick things off, which might test the patience and personalities of Durant, Irving and potentially other players on the roster.
We’ll see what fate has in store for the Nets once the NBA kicks off its season Dec. 22.