Gamblers are laying money on the Nets to win the NBA title, at odds as high as 150-1, thinking a season delayed until June could see the return of Durant and possibly Kyrie Irving. But Durant’s longtime friend and business partner seems to think that’s a sucker bet.
“Honestly, not very realistic from my standpoint, and not even spoken about,” Rich Kleiman told ESPN on Monday about the prospect of Durant coming back to play this season.
Durant suffered a ruptured Achilles last June 10 playing in the NBA Finals for Golden State. Durant and Irving both joined the Nets later that month, and both the player and Nets general manager Sean Marks have steadfastly insisted he would sit out the entire season.
Achilles surgeries can take a full year to recover from, with some as fast as nine months. Even the optimistic end of that range would be this month, with the Nets having just 20 games left on the regular-season schedule. But COVID-19 has changed that time frame.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Monday that larger gatherings of 50 people or more be banned for eight weeks. And NBA owners and executives are reportedly bracing for the possibility of a mid-to-late June return, according to ESPN; and that’s a best-case scenario. A mid-June return would give Durant a full year of recovery time.
But while Durant, the Nets and Kleiman have all been tight-lipped about his rehab, progress or timetable, the Kleiman reaffirmed Monday that it’s not likely to be this season, whether that’s in the spring or the summer.
“It feels like it clearly was not something that was in the cards prior to all this,” Kleiman said. “And now, I think just like the rest of the world, it’s hard to take anything more than day by day.
“But again, I think that Kevin is going to figure out the space that he needs to be in to continue to rehab during this time. But even that is hard to answer at this point, with the new kind of rules that were put in place [Sunday] night.”
With play suspended, Brooklyn is 30-34 and seventh in the Eastern Conference despite Durant not having played a second and Irving having undergone what is expected to be season-ending shoulder surgery after just 20 appearances. But gamblers are eyeing the Nets as a sneaky play.
They were being offered at 75/1 at William Hill and 80/1 at the Westgate SuperBook. They were 110/1 at FanDuel sportsbooks and 150/1 at BetOnline. For perspective, the BetOnline had the Pelicans and Thunder at 100/1, with the Celtics and Rockets tied for the fourth-best odds at 20/1.