When the Brooklyn Nets take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 23 in their season opener, Kevin Durant won’t be among the starting five, nor will he come off the bench.
That’s because he’ll be out for the entire 2019-2020 NBA season with an Achilles injury that he had to get surgery for.
When Durant was with the Golden State Warriors last season, he went down in game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors and left with a ruptured right Achilles tendon.
It was the first game back for the 6-foot-9 forward since he strained his right calf on May 8 in the Western Conference second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets.
And after that Game 5 injury, many blasted the Golden State Warriors and their coach Steve Kerr for playing Durant, and they said he was far from ready after his injury from the Houston series.
Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent during the current offseason, as did Kyrie Irving. And on Friday, during the Nets’ press day, Irving slammed Golden State for allowing his new teammate to play in Game 5. And he also said nothing like that will ever happen in Brooklyn.
“Naturally, you have to go inside the mind of a competitor, and realize that a lot of people have responsibilities as for why that ended up happening the way it happened on a national scale,” Irving explained.
“We all know K was not ready to play in that environment. We all know that, whether people want to admit it or not,” he continued. “He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage on Finals, to end up selling a product that came before the person, Kevin. And now I’m here to protect that.”
Irving then said although Durant is a crucial part of the Nets’ success, he won’t allow anyone to jeopardize his health or playing future, not even for more wins.
“[I won’t allow] anyone to infiltrate that circle of ‘Hey K, do you. Get right, we’ll be fine,’” said Irving. “We have expectations for our team, we obviously know he’s an integral part, but we’ll wait for that.”
“I’m very patient, I’ll be over-patient with Kevin, because I don’t want anything like that to happen to anyone again,” he added. “Especially on that type of stage where it happened and then him having to answer questions about whether or not he’s coming back or not.”
But despite many thinking that Kerr and the Warriors forced Durant to play in that finals game, Durant said it wasn’t true during an interview with Yahoo Sports in August.
“I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back,” he stated. “Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and [director of sports medicine and performance] Rick [Celebrini] working out every day. Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5.”
“Hell, nah,” Durant continued. “It just happened. It’s basketball. S— happens. Nobody was responsible for it. It was just the game.”