Kevin Durant on James Harden trade and where Nets go from here – New York Post

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MIAMI — In his first comments to beat writers in a month, and with his team mired in an 11-game losing skid, injured Nets star Kevin Durant addressed the trade of James Harden to the 76ers, his former teammate’s unhappiness in Brooklyn and the pall of uncertainty that hung over the team as a result.
Durant — who strained his left MCL during a game Jan. 15 against the Pelicans and missed a 14th straight game Saturday — said the blockbuster deal, which is bringing Ben Simmons to Brooklyn, should give the Nets a sense of calm.
Considering the Nets’ 11-game losing streak is the worst in the league after a 115-111 loss to the Heat on Saturday — falling from first in the East to eighth — they need it.
“It just gives everyone on the team a sense of security and they’re going to be here and be a part of the group going forward the rest of the season. I’m sure there was a lot of uncertainty in the locker room about what our future was going to be as a group,” Durant said. “But everybody now has settled in on what they need to do.”
What the Nets desperately need to do is get healthy and get pulling in the same direction to get into the playoffs, before they can start thinking about winning them.
Harden was disgruntled. Durant said his fellow star didn’t owe anybody an explanation for why he suddenly decided he wanted out of Brooklyn, but he claimed Harden’s abrupt heel-turn caught him by surprise.
“He’s made his decision. I’m sure people make their decision before they get to that mode of being unhappy. I didn’t have any conversations with James up until then. I thought everything was solid,” said Durant, insisting he had no idea what was coming.
“When the reports came out that they were in talks with getting traded. I wasn’t around the team because I was rehabbing and they were on the road for a bit, a couple road trips, so I wasn’t around the team to really, really see the vibe. But I know the losses hurt us, and I know my injury might’ve hurt the team a bit not being around. And then Kyrie [Irving] in-and-out the lineup.”
The unvaccinated Irving’s part-time status had been a bone of contention for Harden. When asked if that had an impact on the former MVP deciding to become a former Net, Durant demurred.
“There’s obviously going to be rumors about that. Kyrie has always been an easy scapegoat for everybody, especially for the media and the fans. They love to use him as a scapegoat for a lot of problems. So it’s easy to blame him,” Durant said. “But I can’t speculate on how James is feeling. I know a lot of the media will put that on him.”
Some will also put the Nets’ losing streak on him. They entered Saturday having lost the last seven games Irving played.
The Nets are also just 2-12 since Durant got hurt. They’ve fallen into the play-in behind the sixth-place Raptors.
“We know we’re in some deep s–t, don’t get me wrong: But we do understand that with a win, one win, it could just put us on the right track. And that’s what it takes in this league and things can change pretty fast,” Durant said. “I’m confident in our group.”
Durant has been back on the court for a week, though he has not yet been cleared for high-intensity work. He’s expected to return to action after the All-Star Game, but wouldn’t commit to play the first game following the break, Feb. 24 against the Celtics.
“I feel that the next couple weeks that I’ll start to do more. That’s probably as much as I can give you and I don’t know for sure,” Durant said. “I’m just listening to the training staff, just doing my job and coming in and following the game plan every day. Whatever they give me.
“But from the last few weeks I feel like they’ve been able to give me more and more each day. So I’ll ramp up here soon and see what happens. I want to be back as fast as possible, but I also know I don’t want to go out there and be 80 percent. I want to be 100 [percent] so I can be the best that I can be.”
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