On the bright side, Nets say Kevin Durant’s COVID isolation is just mandatory load management

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Kristian Winfield, New York Daily News
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Kevin Durant continues to post negative coronavirus tests but the NBA’s health and safety protocols mandate he stay isolated and away from the team until at least Friday.

“From what I know, Kevin’s on about 90 negative tests,” Nash joked on Sunday. “It would be wonderful if he could join our ballclub as soon as possible.”

Nash also suggested the time away would also serve as its own form of load management for Durant, who is off to a sensational start but still working his way back from 552 days away from NBA basketball while rehabbing his ruptured Achilles tendon.

“Yeah, COVID protocols. Out 7 days. So there’s our load management for Kevin right there,” Nash smiled. “It’s one of those situations where we’ve had so much stop and start and we’re such a new entity. We’re trying to find that balance between trying to win games and keep our kind of emotional health, and at the same time not wear them out, and it’s very difficult to do with the roster and everything that’s been thrown at us. I don’t have a solution, other than we’ll look at the bright side of his seven-day hiatus.”

IRVING UPDATE

Kyrie Irving hurt his right index finger against the Raptors and did not play on Saturday against the 76ers. Nash said Irving’s index finger is improving but suggested it might not 100% heal this season.

“Having played with plenty of those myself, it’s the type of thing that sometimes doesn’t go away in the season, but is manageable,” he said. “We’ll see what level he’s able to attain as far as the pain and inflammation becoming manageable or not. But I think right now it’s manageable and he can play (Tuesday) night.”

FINAL SPOT FILLED

The Nets agreed to a contract with free agent forward and former Knick Noah Vonleh, who adds depth to a front court that was depleted with the trade for James Harden. He is also a serviceable three-point shooter and gives the Nets another floor-spacing option at the four or five.

The Nets only had one open roster spot left after the deal that sent out Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and Rodions Kurucs in exchange for James Harden. The roster is now full.

CLAX CLOSE

Nets second-year forward Nic Claxton said he had some “flare-ups” in the knee tendinitis that has kept the promising tweener out of Georgia off the court to start the season.

“As far as the tendinitis goes, right now I’m in a stage where I’m trying to get my explosion back and that goes back to the patience thing,” Claxton conceded. “This is something I haven’t really had to deal with in the past. It’s just been patience with my shoulder and even going back to last year with my hamstring and now with my tendinitis and now I’m just trying to stay the course, keep my head down and continue to work. That patience word is huge because I know when the time comes I know I’ll be ready.”

Brooklyn selected Claxton 31st overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, and the lefty forward-center flashed his potential as a versatile two-way front court player. He averaged 13 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a sophomore at Georgia before declaring for the Draft and ultimately signing a deal with the Nets.

Nash remains noncommittal on a target date for Claxton to make his season debut and says the next step in his rehab is joining the stay-ready group. The second-year forward said he’s progressed from one-on-ones to two-on-twos and played three-on-threes for the first time since his diagnosis during Monday practice with some team coaches.

“He’s almost a half-measure of the stay ready group and will be there shortly hopefully,” Nash said. “So there’s progress and there’s what seems like momentum and some light at the end of the tunnel. But I don’t have a day, and I would say it’s probably a good three weeks before he plays in an NBA game at minimum. Still a moving target, but positive signs for sure.”