After a confusing night surrounding the status of Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant at the Barclays Center, which included being removed from the lineup before the game and the third quarter due to contact tracing protocols, Durant will not play in Philadelphia on Saturday and could miss several games for the second time in a month, sources told ESPN.
Durant had contacted an associate on Friday who tested positive for the coronavirus Friday night, just hours after an inconclusive test shortly before the Nets’ 123-117 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
That inspired a dramatic scene in the third quarter: A Nets official informing Durant that he had to leave the bank to isolate himself, prompting one of the franchise’s stars to trudge through the guts of Barclays, where, presumably, he tweeted, “Free Me” in the final minutes of the game.
The Nets informed the league office of the individual’s unfinished test Friday afternoon, eventually receiving instructions to remove Durant from pregame warm-ups. Nets general manager Sean Marks was on the phone with the league office and relayed the information to the group on the court.
Moments later, Steve Nash and his coaching staff received word that Durant would not be available to start the game.
Durant left the court before the game, only to be cleared by the NBA to return to the bench shortly after the start of the first quarter.
“Durant was initially out of the game while that result was being reviewed. [de la prueba]”the league statement said.” Under league health and safety protocols, we do not require a player to be quarantined until a close contact has a confirmed positive test. “
Before Durant left the court for the last time in the third quarter, he was sitting on the bench while officials reviewed a play on which he had committed his fifth foul of the night. The foul was overturned, but Durant never re-entered.
When the requested time expired, a team official told Durant that he would not be able to continue in the game. Durant shook his head in apparent frustration. As he walked back through the tunnel, Durant threw down his water bottle.
Durant, who played 19 minutes in the game, kept tweeting Friday night after the game, questioning the timeline and league details.
In the wake of stars LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo ridiculing the league and NBPA’s plans for an NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7, a sense of rebellion emerged from the superstars at the bottom of week.
“I don’t understand the whole thing where he couldn’t play, then he came on the court and then they took him back,” Nets guard James Harden said. “A lot is happening. Too much is happening. It is overwhelming. We are in the middle of a difficult game, and these games are going to add up, especially if we are talking about qualifying and playing in the playoffs … to pick up the pace. It’s overwhelming. It’s frustrating. “
“[Durant] feels the same. Especially with him who already had it and we do tests every day. Has been negative [en las pruebas]. So, I don’t understand what the problem is. The game should have been postponed. If we are talking about contact tracing. He was close to all of us. So I don’t understand why he was not allowed to play, then he was allowed to play and then he was taken off the court. If that was the case, we should have postponed the game. “
Durant contracted the coronavirus in March and still had those antibodies in early January when he missed three games due to contact tracing. Four weeks later, Durant could miss a similar six-day period, sources said.
After Friday’s game, Nash said he struggled, at times, to compartmentalize Durant’s absence during the game.
“I probably got a little distracted thinking about what it means in the long run for our team,” Nash said. “We’ve already been giving several players a lot of minutes and if Kevin isn’t playing, are we going to keep adding minutes to the remaining players? So maybe I got a little distracted from the bigger picture.”
The Nets have road games on Saturday (Philadelphia) and Tuesday (Detroit) and return home on Wednesday (Indiana). The Nets will begin a trip to the West Coast next Saturday against Golden State.