Before the COVID-19 outbreak wreaked havoc on the sports world, the consensus pick for NBA champion was between three teams – the LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, or Milwaukee Bucks. Now that certain players had ample time to heal from injuries and/or rest, we could see an upset brewing that would shock the basketball world if the season were to resume.
The Brooklyn Nets, listed at +6000 on FanDuel Sportsbook to win the NBA title, would stand to gain quite the advantage if Kevin Durant returned from an injury. As it stood, KD was going to miss the season initially, with the Nets season likely ending in the first or second round.
Because of the delay in finishing, or just calling it quits this season, it would be possible for the former MVP to actually play if/when the NBA season returns.
To no one’s surprise, this is a situation that would make anyone nervous. Nets GM Sean Marks understands the responsibility to keep KD safe from another serious injury, but ultimately, the decision is up to the player.
“That’s a $110 million question,” said Marks. “In all seriousness, we’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot.
“He knows his body better than anybody. Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him this point, but I just don’t know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.”
Durant’s agent and business partner, Rich Kleiman, told the Washington Post back in February that he would play in the Tokyo Olympics. The games were scheduled to start in July but have since been postponed until the summer of 2021.
That tune quickly changed, though, as Kleiman would shortly afterward tell ESPN’s Golic & Wingo right after the NBA season ended in March that Durant’s chances of playing in the Olympics were “not very realistic.” In addition to the appearance on Golic & Wingo, Kleiman went on the ESPN NY Radio’s The Michael Kay Show in late April to say his “assumption is no” that KD would play this season.
As for the Nets, they were a disappointing 30-34 this season, which was good enough to be the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. A championship certainly wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but multiple injuries to Kyrie Irving really sent this season into a total tailspin.
To top it off, fan-favorite head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team “mutually agreed to part ways” back in early March, stunning everyone in the organization and those who follow it.
With all of that drama, the Nets are still in a position to come out the gates on fire if the NBA season continues. After all, this team was playing well when the season was suspended, winning each of the last three games and four of the last five – the last of those wins came in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
You’ll never see the Nets at +6000 for anything as long as KD and Kyrie are playing on the same team. If there was ever a time to take a chance on this Nets team, the time is now.
Hell, you can make a bet now, and there might not even be a season until next year. In that case, you would get your money back.
“When you’ve got enough invested in a player like Kevin, we’re never going to push him to come back,” said Marks. “When the timing is right, he’ll be 100 percent when he gets on the court. I can tell you this, though – before the pandemic, he looked like Kevin Durant, and that’s a good thing.”
Only time will tell when we get back to basketball – and then how the Nets will handle the KD situation once they arrive at that bridge.