Kevin Durant Officially Out for Season, Nets' Title Hopes to Drop?
The NBA hammered out their return to play format for the postseason when the league picks up play next month earlier this week. With most of the top teams in each conference locked in to qualify for the postseason, it didn’t take long for the sportsbooks to start setting championship odds for those looking to get some wagers in on the potential NBA champs. One thing that we saw that was a major deviation in the odds was a sudden shift in the odds for the Nets, who saw their odds move from 750-1 to 60-1 due to the looming concern about the potential return of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for the postseason.
On Friday night, one of those potential concerns was put to bed with a definitive answer. While it gives clarity for bettors, it might not be what people who may have already jumped on the Brooklyn bandwagon would have wanted to hear.
Kevin Durant announced Friday in an interview with The Undefeated that he would not be returning this season as he continues his recovery from an Achilles tear he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals. In addition, he was one of the four Nets that contracted the coronavirus earlier this season, which he has also recovered from. During that interview, Durant said the following:
“My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all. We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season. It’s just best for me to wait. I don’t think I’m ready to play that type of intensity right now in the next month. It gives me more time to get ready for next season and the rest of my career.”
While the decision isn’t wholly unexpected, it likely still is a blow to the Nets. After all, by the time the season restarts, it will have been close to 14 months since the injury took place so he is likely closing in on returning to full strength. Still, Durant is intent on sticking to his plan, which, all along, was to sit out the 2019-20 season in preparation for 2020-21 and beyond. A three-month layoff in active rehab and pushing himself thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic likely blunted any potential concept he felt about returning to the floor this season. The fact that the season will be pushed further out into December more than likely at best means that it will be nearly 18 months between games for Durant.
As it turns out, Durant won’t be the only big name piece missing from the Nets when the league reconvenes in preparation for the postseason. Kyrie Irving, who underwent shoulder surgery on March 3, has already determined that the season-ending designation the surgery entailed back then would remain in effect. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving is contemplating making the trip to Orlando to support his teammates as an inactive player. Durant is uncertain if he is going to make the trip to Orlando for the restart at this point in time. While the moral support for his team will be nice, it’s clear that the Nets would rather have their two high-profile acquisitions from last offseason on the floor if that was a possibility.
The odds for the Nets in regards to winning the title likely will have a market correction in the coming days now that the announcements regarding both Durant and Irving have been made. It’s something that is likely going to see the Nets drop back closer to their previous odds as without that duo, Brooklyn isn’t the serious contender they may be in 2020-21.