Kevin Durant Reportedly Won't Join Nets in Orlando Amid Injury Rehab

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Kevin Durant looks on during a game at the Staples Center on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2020 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant reportedly won't be with the team when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes in Orlando, Florida, on July 30.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, KD will instead focus on continuing to rehab the torn Achilles he suffered in last year's NBA Finals while with the Golden State Warriors.

Durant signed a four-year, $164.26 million contract with the Nets in free agency last offseason, but he hasn't played with the club yet.

While Durant isn't healthy enough to play, he believes he would have sat out the remainder of the 2019-20 season even if he was healed up given the risks involved with the coronavirus pandemic.

Durant discussed his stance last week during an appearance on the Dawg Talk podcast (h/t Zach Braziller of the New York Post):

"I feel, me right now, I probably wouldn't have played because the unknown going into that situation looks crazy right now, seeing so many new cases. It's just so unpredictable. It's easy for me to say right now because I'm injured, but I probably wouldn't have went down there.

"If the guys feel safe, safe enough to go play, that's cool, I'm with them. If they don't feel like they should go down there and play, don't feel safe, I'm with them too. I'm all about what the group wants, and if it's good for the betterment of the whole group, then I'm cool with it. But I probably would have chilled."

Durant's teammate, Kyrie Irving, doesn't figure to be with the team in Orlando, either. In addition to Irving being out after undergoing shoulder surgery in early March, he spoke out against the restart for other reasons.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving spoke on a call that included nearly 100 NBA players a couple of weeks ago. He reportedly gave an "impassioned plea" to players to sit out the rest of the season and focus on social issues following the death of 46-year-old Black man George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Irving said: "I don't support going into Orlando. I'm not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy."

While a handful of players have opted out of the restart, most are going to play, and the NBA is prepared to finish the season beginning July 30.

Nets forward Wilson Chandler has opted out of the restart because of family concerns, as has center DeAndre Jordan after testing positive for COVID-19. Teammate Spencer Dinwiddie also tested positive for COVID-19, but he has yet to decide if he will join the team.

At 30-34, the Nets are seventh in the Eastern Conference. They lead the eighth-place Orlando Magic by a half-game and the ninth-place Washington Wizards by six games.

The Nets are likely to make the playoffs, although they could fall to eighth and be forced to play their way in if the ninth-place team is within four games. In that scenario, the Nets would have to beat the ninth-place team once to make the playoffs, while the ninth-place team would have to beat the Nets twice.

With Durant, Irving, Jordan and Chandler all out, plus Dinwiddie possibly opting out as well, the Nets figure to be easy pickings for a team like the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs should they qualify.

Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.