Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Rich Kleiman, Kevin Durant's manager and business partner, has said several times that he doesn't foresee Durant returning during the 2019-20 season -- even if it re-starts in July.
Kleiman reiterated that stance earlier this week in an interview on SiriusXM Radio, when asked by host Frank Isola if there was a chance Durant would play this season if the year resumed in July.
"From my standpoint, no, I think it's unrealistic. That's just my view on it," Kleiman said to Isola and co-host Wes Wilcox. "Again, we haven't gone deep into conversation about it because of how unrealistic it all seems to me. I figure that if something changed, he would tell me. And it's also hard to even discuss (a potential return this season) in a real serious manner without any information on the season. (There is) such uncertainty day to day -- as we all (feel), outside of just the NBA -- that the whole thing just feels too unrealistic from my standpoint."
Nets GM Sean Marks and Durant had ruled the MVP out for the season earlier this year. But there has been speculation that Durant could return in 2019-20 if the season resumes over the summer.
Marks made what appeared to be a light-hearted remark when he said in an interview with Newshub in New Zealand that Durant's possible return this season, "That's a $110m question."
Marks laughed when he made the remark, though it was interpreted as the GM keeping the door open on a Durant return.
"In all seriousness, we've tried not to talk about his timeline a lot," Marks added. "He knows his body better than anybody. Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him to this point, but I just don't know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin."
Durant, who had surgery to repair a torn Achilles last June, was asked about Marks' remark in an interview on Lil Wayne's Young Money Radio. Wayne insinuated that some felt the remark was a sign of disrespect to Durant, who signed a four-year, $140 million deal with Brooklyn last summer.
The comment didn't seem to bother Durant. If it did, he didn't show he was bothered by it in the interview.
Durant doesn't feel like the Nets are trying to rush him back, but he understands that the organization is eager to see he and Kyrie Irving on the court together.
"It is what it is man. Everybody waiting on me to come back," Durant said on the show on iTunes. "A lot of emotions involved. So I get it. I understand the business now. But I'll be back when it's time."
Durant had been scrimmaging informally in 3-on-3 settings before the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Marks said in the interview with Newshub that he doesn't want Durant -- who tested positive for coronavirus -- to rush his return.
"No, I wouldn't say that. But obviously everybody's anxious to see how we're going to fit together, especially me and Kyrie," Durant said. "It's a new situation."
On pairing with his close friend Irving, Durant said, "Our games match, you know what I'm saying? We can do the same things, we're similar. So it's just a matter of figuring it out."
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, is coming back from a difficult injury. He will be returning to a team that may have a new head coach -- if interim Jacque Vaughn isn't retained -- and will go into the season with championship aspirations.
Kleiman, who is admittedly biased, feels that Durant has benefited from his time off the court and will come back a better player.
"His game has never been completely reliant on athletic ability, though he's got incredible athletic ability. His skill set is off the charts… And his intelligence for the game is at an all-time high," Kleiman said. "…But having a year off and watching so much film and you saw how close he was to the team. He's a hoops junkie. So I think maybe you'll see a new version. And it may look the exact same but in terms of what he knows mentally and his continued commitment on the defensive end. You saw it in the Bay when he was playing a lot of point, he was an incredible distributor, he was great in the pick and roll, he could read the defense well. He could protect the rim. So I think you'll just see a completely well-rounded, better version of him, to be honest."