The Nets could be back up to a Big 2, with Kevin Durant upgraded to questionable for Friday night’s game at Barclays Center against Boston.
With the team woefully shorthanded — missing star James Harden and essentially playing with an eight-man rotation — getting Durant back at some point on this homestand either Friday versus the Celtics or Sunday against the Suns would be huge.
“Just having him back, it will be a world of difference,” Joe Harris had said of Durant’s potential return. “Obviously, like we mentioned earlier we’re extremely limited right now with eight, nine guys. So having another body, especially somebody like Kevin, will be huge.”
Durant has missed the past two games with a left thigh contusion suffered Sunday in Miami. He lasted just 4:03 in the loss to the Heat before he got fouled by Trevor Ariza, taking an inadvertent knee to the leg from the Miami veteran.
Even a minor injury to Durant predictably had Nets fans on edge.
Durant missed 18 months with a ruptured Achilles suffered in June 2019. He suffered through a bout with COVID-19, two more health and safety quarantines, and missed 23 straight games with a hamstring strain. He’d only returned from that injury on April 7, playing five games before getting forced out of the Miami game.
Steve Nash had raised hopes that Durant could be back by this homestand, and having him upgraded from out to questionable buoys hopes that the thigh injury isn’t catastrophic.
“He is day-to-day, so Friday or Sunday are very possible,” Nash had said. “I’m not sure when it would be or if it would be either of those games, but he is day-to-day, so if he keeps progressing at this rate I think Friday or Sunday are very possible.”
Guard Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness) has also been upgraded, albeit to doubtful. Still, after missing the past nine games, it’s progress. With Harden suffering a setback in his right hamstring strain and reserve Chris Chiozza out with a fractured right hand, the Nets need all the frontcourt depth they can get.
Nic Claxton remains out with health and safety protocols, the league’s catchall for all COVID-19 issues. It’s unclear whether the second-year big man has tested positive or is simply in a contact tracing quarantine.
Six-foot-4 Bruce Brown is coming off a career-high 14 rebounds against Toronto. Josh Hart and Tyler Herro are the only guards to post a higher rebounding total off the bench this season.
The Post has learned EuroLeague standout Mike James has received his Letter of Clearance from FIBA needed to sign with the Nets. He’s been in protocol since Sunday and is expected to sign as soon as Brooklyn creates a roster opening.
James inked a three-year contract with CSKA Moscow that ran through 2023. But after the scoring guard had a blowup with his coach, the Russian powerhouse announced they came “to an agreement that will allow the player to become a free agent until the end of the 2020-21 season.”
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