Kevin Durant could return in Nets’ next 3 games, Simmons still working on conditioning

Ben Simmons Kevin Durant
Ben Simmons and forward Kevin Durant watch from the bench during the second quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Two key pieces to any success for the Nets during the second half of the season are inching closer to a return to the court. Both Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons are closing in on a date to get back on the floor in Brooklyn jerseys.

Durant is the closer of the two to making his way back into the Nets’ lineup after suffering from an MCL sprain in January. Simmons is ramping up into game shape after not playing all season while he dealt with his mental health.

Nets head coach Steve Nash didn’t rule out Durant playing on Saturday in Milwaukee, but believed it was more likely that he would return sometime next week. “I’m sure it’s possible but for me, it’s probably again in the next three games more likely than Saturday,” he said.

Nash told reporters before Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics that Simmons’ return would take a little bit longer because of his conditioning.

The Nets bench boss did give some insight into how the organization was gauging when Durant and Simmons, as well as buyout market addition Goran Dragic, would be ready to return. Speaking in broad terms, Nash said that it was based on the number of high-intensity workouts that the player completes.

“In general terms, to return to play, you have to have a number of high-intensity workouts,” Nash explained. “So playing at full capacity typically three times before you can return without an incident. They’re all at different stages of that. That’s kind of the markers we’re looking at and like I said, at various points in the high-intensity bucket already. Some are not.”

When asked about the number that Durant has gone through so far, Nash told reporters that the Nets’ cornerstone player had been through one to date.

“We’ll see. He seems like he’s getting there,” Nash said. “We’ll see how he responds tomorrow and then we’ll try to get him subsequent workouts.”

And while the focus remained on the return of Simmons and Durant, Brooklyn is also waiting on Dragic to make his debut after officially inking his deal on Tuesday. That could come sooner than later as well, with Nash a bit more optimistic that he could play on Saturday night.

“I suppose it’s not out of the question,” Nash said on Dragic making his debut in Milwaukee. “We have to assess how he comes through today, tomorrow and see where he’s at Saturday. It’s probably less likely he’ll play Saturday, but I think in the next three games, he’s out there.”

The Nets started their post-all-star break stretch without any of its superstars on the court against the Celtics at Barclays Center.