When Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant went down with a knee tweak midway through what eventually became a blowout victory over the undermanned New Orleans Pelicans, it was easy to jump immediately to the worst possible conclusion.
After all, though Durant believed he would be a part of an unflappable Big 3 when James Harden arrived, the reality has been much more daunting, and KD has had to spend large portions of the past year and a half carrying Brooklyn’s load nearly solo, mentoring a series of young rotation players and taking over fourth quarters instead of deferring to Harden and Kyrie Irving on nights when things weren’t quite right.
With that great responsibility came unparalleled minutes for Durant, especially while the rest of the Nets roster came up against a stunning load of COVID issues in mid-December. Against the Raptors on a day when Brooklyn was barely able to field a full roster, Durant was forced to play through ankle soreness, logging 48 minutes in an overtime victory that stands out as emblematic of just how much he’s given this year.
Needless to say, fans who’ve spent the past month fearing the worst were near-vindicated on Saturday when Durant’s knee tweaked, though after an MRI was returned on Sunday afternoon, things seem … not quite so bad, depending on whether you believe the glass is half full.
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant injury update: 4-to-6 weeks…or more?
Getting the elephant in the room out in the open: Durant’s season is not over.
Or, rather, there is no key word that indicates he can’t come back. No snaps, tears, or months of rehabilitation. Durant has officially suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee, and though the timeline for return remains up for debate, the organization believes it could be a month-and-a-half until we see KD. That’s more than enough runway for him to return healthy for the playoffs.
The remainder of Durant’s contract weighs on that decision, as well. Is this “the year” for the Brooklyn Nets? Is this the supporting cast best served by hurrying Durant back?
Officially, the timetable for return remains undetermined. That’s where the pessimism kicks in. Things could always get delayed.
For now, the estimated time frame allows us to imagine a world where a fully-healthy Durant’s workload isn’t managed at all by the time the postseason rolls around, letting the Nets serve as road warriors with the ultimate trio leading the way.
Sometimes, the best-laid plans go awry, though, which must also be noted — and is the central focus of the pessimists outside the building so far.