Even if the Nets don’t get James Harden, it sounds like they might be getting the best of their own superstar. All the glowing reports about Kevin Durant say that he’s back to his old MVP self.

Durant hasn’t played in an NBA game since rupturing his Achilles tendon in June 2019, but players — both Nets and otherwise — who participated in pickup games with him the past month in Los Angeles raved over his progress. Now that the Nets are back in Brooklyn and working out at HSS Training Center, the gushing has only intensified.

“I’ll just keep it short and simple: KD is back again,” center Jarrett Allen told Basketball News.

Other NBA players who played with Durant in Los Angeles, such as John Wall, seconded that. Nets general manager Sean Marks confirmed as much Thursday night on YES Network, saying the performance team was impressed with Durant and Kyrie Irving, who is returning from season-ending shoulder surgery.

Kevin Durant
Kevin DurantGetty Images

“I don’t think anybody is more excited than Kevin himself to get back on the court. He’s mentioned numerous times he can’t wait to be back, in Barclays, wearing the Nets jersey and being out there,” Marks said. “As it pertains to how those guys look, what we’ve seen — they’ve been back in our gym now a couple days — the feedback from the performance team on how they’ve looked is they look terrific.

“It’s been remarkable to watch Kevin’s development and the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation over the course of the last year. We’re all champing at the bit and excited to see him out there.”

Marks didn’t discuss the status of free agent Joe Harris, whom he has called the Nets’ No. 1 priority, and he couldn’t risk tampering charges by talking about the Harden pursuit.

“Well, there’s never a dull moment. I think when you’re part of some rumors that are out there and so forth you take heed and look just how far the Nets organization has come,” Marks said. “It’s a crazy business that we live in. Things are thrown your way all the time, and you have to pivot and be flexible and maintain that throughout the season.”

New head coach Steve Nash has acknowledged the bar to be considered successful is high for the Nets, and Marks didn’t try to manage expectations either.

“I don’t think anybody wants to be part of anything mediocre,” Marks said. “We have a long way to go, we haven’t done anything on paper. … [But] it’s important we own what the goals are at the end of this. That’s what we all signed up for.”