Kevin Durant, Goran Dragic likely to play for Nets as March begins

Steve Nash said it’s possible that injured Kevin Durant or incoming Goran Dragic could suit up as soon as Saturday in Milwaukee, but added it’s far likelier that one or both could be ready at some point in the Nets’ three games next week.

“I’m sure it’s possible, but for me it’s probably, again, in the next three games more likely than Saturday,” Nash said of Durant returning against the defending champion Bucks. He offered a similar prognosis for Dragic.

“I suppose it’s not out of the question, but we have to assess how he comes through [Thursday], [Friday] and see where he’s at Saturday. So it’s probably less likely that he would play. But I think in the next three games, there’s a good chance he’s out there.”

The Nets, who were blown out 129-106 by the Celtics on Thursday night, host the Raptors on Monday and play the tail end of a back-to-back the next night in Toronto before playing host to the Heat on Thursday.

The Nets were 27-15 when Durant suffered a sprained left MCL, sitting second in the Eastern Conference and sixth overall in the NBA. But since Jan. 16, Brooklyn is now 4-14 after a 129-106 loss to Boston on Thursday.

It’s impossible to overstate Durant’s importance to the Nets, but he — just like Dragic, Ben Simmons and an injured Joe Harris — must complete three high-intensity workouts before being cleared to play.

Kevin Durant
Jason Szenes

“They’re all at different stages of that. But that’s kind of the markers we’re looking at, and they’re all, like I said, at various points in that. Some are in the high-intensity bucket already, some are not,” Nash said. “So I think Kevin’s probably the closest, but has some time to make up still. And Ben and Joe trail behind him.

“[Durant] has played. He’s playing. I would say he’s had one. So we’ll see. He seems like he’s getting there and we’ll see how he responds [Friday]. And then we’ll try to get him in subsequent workouts.”

Dragic hasn’t played since appearing in five games at the beginning of the season for Toronto. The 35-year-old guard had been working out on his own in South Florida before being signed Tuesday.

Goran Dragic #1 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket during the game against the Chicago Bulls on October 25, 2021 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Goran Dragic began the season with the Raptors.
NBAE via Getty Images

Simmons hasn’t played in even longer, not appearing since the 76ers’ second-round playoff exit back in June 2021. Harris has been out with an ankle injury, trying to avoid having a second surgery. There is growing optimism that he may be able to avoid another procedure, but nothing is decided yet.

TNT reported during its broadcast that Brooklyn would know by the end of the week if Harris would need a second ankle surgery. But when apprised of the in-game report, Nash said, “I did not know that, no.”

Thursday marked Nic Claxton’s first game action since Feb. 4. He’d missed the first four with a hamstring injury and the past three before the break as a healthy DNP.

Patty Mills had just one point on 0 of 9 shooting, including 0 of 5 from deep.

The Aussie guard has been forced to do too much and is clearly gassed. He’s averaging just 8.6 points on 28.8 percent shooting in his past seven games.

“Patty’s tired. His legs have been worked pretty hard this year,” Nash said. “He’s played more minutes than he’s ever played and we’ve asked a lot of him, so as we get bodies back, he can hopefully get a little bit more of a normal rotation.”

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