Despite its obvious significance, Kevin Durant’s MCL sprain, the injury doesn’t mark uncharted waters for Brooklyn. The Nets were without KD for 21 games in 2022 and although the sprain appears less severe this time around, the Nets know how to deal with the details of his recovery, things like whether he should travel with the team.
“So we talked about it a little. He hasn’t been sitting on the bench, we don’t want anybody [who’s] saving a ball running into him,” said Jacque Vaughn after Saturday’s practice. “We’ll see how far along he is, does it make sense and is it smart for him to travel … or if he just meet us when we come back? We’ll talk that through.”
Vaughn says that the Nets are prioritizing a quick as possible return to play, but they also like “having him around to bounce ideas off of and continue to lead our group is still huge for us.”
There has been no conversation of whether or not KD will play in the All-Star game on February 19 once he is inevitably is voted in for his 13th appearance, according to Vaughn. He is hoping that the injury won’t even reach that point, saying, “I that he’s playing and ready to rock and roll and back with us.”
KD is out at least two weeks but reports from Adrian Wojnarowski and others make it seem like the Nets are a planning for him to be out a month.
Meanwhile, the other end of the roster, the Nets recently shuffled players in and out of their two-way contract slot, waiving undrafted guard Alondes Williams on Thursday and replacing him with 25-year-old guard Dru Smith, who was signed the next day.
Vaughn provided his own scouting report on Smith who played five games as a Heat two-way at the beginning of the season.
“A guard that has some athleticism, good size, competes, so areas that we really love. I think he has some upside to get better. So [we] look forward to him being a part of our group and getting him involved pretty quickly with Long Island. He just landed and went through his physical, so he’ll be around and there’s a possibility he’ll be with the rest of the group watching tomorrow.”
The Long Island Nets tip-off at home against the Grand Rapids Gold Saturday night. Nets say that he will available for the game which will be telecast on the YES App and NBAGLeague.com starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.
The Nets could have used the two-way spot on a player from their G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets. But this Nets front office has frequently scouted the entire league to fill out the end of the roster, as they did with Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris in 2016, signing Dinwiddie off the Windy City Bulls roster. They did so again this week. But in choosing to sign Smith, they allowed the Atlanta Hawks to scoop up (now former) Long Island Net guard/forward Donovan Williams, who also played for the Nets at Summer League in Vegas.
The Atlanta Hawks are signing G League Long Island G/F Donovan Williams to a two-way contract and waiving Jarrett Culver, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Williams has averaged 15.6 points for Long Island this season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 14, 2023
Williams averaged 15.6 in Long Island on 49.5% shooting from the field and 41.7% shooting from deep. The Nets did not hold his NBA rights.