The Nets held their first media availability since the game against the Houston Rockets… and was there a lot to unpack. Steve Nash provided updates on star forward Kevin Durant; Blake Griffin spoke for the very first time as a Net; DeAndre Jordan detailed his reunion with his Lob City partner.
Unfortunately, it was a bit disappointing. Hamstrings are tricky things.
Status update on Kevin Durant
The Nets will open the second half of the regular season Thursday without Kevin Durant, who will miss his 10th straight game against the Boston Celtics with the lingering effects of a left hamstring strain.
Steve Nash said Durant will have another scan next week but stressed that he hasn’t played in nearly a month and will need a ramp-up once the results come out positive … whenever that is.
“Kevin is getting better all the time and has a scan next week,” Nash said. “We will assess him then but he hasn’t played in a month basically so no matter what the scan says, he will have an appropriate ramp up and we put him in a position to finish the season strong.”
Back on February 21, prior to the win over the Clippers, Nash noted how Durant was improving at “a rapid rate.” He was even optimistic KD could return before the All-Star break but after a second scan, the Nets realized Durant would not be back so soon.
“I think when we got the second scan, we knew this was going to be longer,” Nash said. “The first scan, there was bleeding and the imaging wasn’t as clear. I think we realized with the second scan, this was the type of timeline we are looking at and we’ll see. That can change. We were expecting the potential for this to be a month.
Nash added how Durant will under yet another scan next week. He did provide a specific date.
“Who knows what the scan says. Who knows where this takes us and how soon he’s back but I think when we got the second scan, we knew that this is probably what we are looking at.”
The Nets want to see the left hamstring healed. In the meantime, the Nets 32-year-old superstar has been on the court putting in individual work.
“I think seeing the injury heal frankly,” Nash said. “That simple. He’s been on the court. He’s been doing a lot of work and just making sure he has the appropriate healing response in the window that we’ve had here. He had the two weeks then the scan, two weeks then a scan and if it’s progressing in the right direction, that’s the No. 1 thing. Then two is it fully healed and how much more can we predict he has to go for to be fully healed.
“He’s already on the court and he’s already working individually, putting himself in a position to escalate that ramp up whenever the scan gives us the appropriate info.”
Durant is doing light work on the practice court such as half-court and working on his shooting rhythm. Nash and the Nets are restricting Durant from participating in any high-speed workouts or five-on-five.
“He is definitely not doing five-on-five. He’s definitely not doing any full-court high-speed running but he’s doing a lot of half-court tight space shooting rhythm work. We will wait for the scan to escalate it and take the next step.”
When asked whether Durant’s hamstring injury is correlated to his Achillies, Nash quickly shot down the connection but noted how he never wants to rule it out any injury pattern. While the scan awaits, the Nets will remain very cautious with Durant stressing his obvious importance to the team.
“You never want to rule patterns because even if you can’t diagnose it, perhaps it’s a part of anything. Through his history, medical history, assessments, we don’t feel like these two are related at all. He is doing very well right now and we all feel very positive about the direction he is going but we just need to very cautious because he’s a really important player for us.”
Blake Griffin will miss Thursday’s game (“left knee – injury management”), which he described as “ramping up.” quickly turned down any injury. Brooklyn listed Jeff Green as questionable with the right shoulder contusion and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot as doubtful with right knee soreness.
Nash does not see any player having an injury that will require missing the majority of the 35 regular-season games left but wants to take everything day-by-day so his players can be available for the playoffs.
“We are at the mercy of how this all plays out. The more games the better but we do have 35 games left and right now, I don’t see anyone having that will hold them out for the majority of those games,” Nash said.
“We’ll monitor Kevin and Blake and hopefully we will have great health and luck in the run-in but you can make all the plans you want and things go sideways sometimes. We just got to take it day by day and make sure we make sensible decisions and with a bit of fortune, we will have a nice runway with these guys available, healthy, playing, and an opportunity to gain cohesion and an understanding before the playoffs arrive.”
Blake Griffin details his new role
Blake Griffin made his first appearance in a Nets (practice) jersey Thursday. For those of you hoping for a glance at how the 31-year-old looks in some Brooklyn threads, have yourself a look:
Griffin said of his new home: “it’s about meaningful basketball, playing in the playoffs.” Of course, the 12-year-veteran didn’t come to the Nets without encouragement. The simple dance of fluffing one’s Larry O’Brien feathers to woo available contributors played a massive part. So to speak.
The lead recruiter, you may ask? “I talked to KD the most,” said Blake. “This was a familiar team for me.”
It was all legal, of course, as he told Rich Eisen on Tuesday. Wouldn’t want to violate those tampering rules.)
What Griffin brings to the table, outside of being yet another big body to fill some of the open frontcourt vacancies, is a distinct skill set that is pre-fit for a role. He’s a veteran, after all, wholly aware of what he does and doesn’t bring to the table. Already, he and Steve Nash have spoken to one another (over a nice meal, it seems!) about a possible role for Blake. Nash has a very specific one in mind for the six-time All-Star.
“Blake is a small-ball 5, who can make open threes,” said Nash. “He’s really good in the half-roll playmaking, playing 4-on-3, 3-on-2, 2-on-1 situations. He’s an intelligent player, has great experience and IQ.”
Defensively, it appears that Griffin’s best utilized in a scheme that can work with Brooklyn’s switching defense. Nets former assistant coach Steve Jones Jr. detailed Blake’s profile as a defender on Twitter in a wonderful thread (seriously, check it out!). Jones, Snapper’s son,came to the conclusion that Blake is likely best used within a defense that interchanges defensive assignments.
You know what, let’s watch some Blake Griffin defense.
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) March 9, 2021
The best coverage for Blake at this point might just be getting to the level of the screen and then dropping back or recovering.
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) March 9, 2021
It appears DeAndre Jordan is in agreement.
“With a guy like Blake, man, we can go small,” said Jordan after Thursday’s practice. “We can switch a lot of things.”
All in all, the move should be beneficial for both sides. For Griffin, he benefits from a fresh start on a championship contender in a city that, heh, isn’t so bad to live in (the Comedy Cellar awaits him!). The Nets, meanwhile, may (or may not) have stumbled upon a hidden pot of gold. With simplified expectations, there’s a chance Blake is a star once more… but only a star in his role.
“His role will be different. He was asked to do a lot in Detroit. There would be a lot of focus on him defensively,” explained Nash. “Whereas with this team, he won’t be as asked to carry as big a load or to absorb so much pressure from the defense. I think there’s an opportunity for him here to have less pressure, less responsibility, and therefore show what he can do in a greater light.”
“I’m not sitting here making any expectations on Blake. Just want to see him enjoy his game, feel good, move as well as he can at this stage, and hopefully incorporate him into what we do and allow him to find a nice role.”
There was no word about how the Nets will fill their two vacancies, extend two of the three 10-days the released earlier in the week, sign other players to new 10-days or leave the spots open. After all, as Marc Stein reported Wednesday night, if Andre Drummond hits free agency, it will be a “Nets versus Lakers faceoff.”