Kryie Irving returned to the lineup, Kevin Durant isn't far behind, but the Nets will continue to be without James Harden for the foreseeable future.
Kyrie Irving was back in the Nets’ lineup for Friday’s 128-109 loss to the Trail Blazers. Coach Steve Nash expects Kevin Durant and Bruce Brown, who both missed Friday’s game, could suit up Sunday in Milwaukee. Even Nic Claxton is out of quarantine and starting to ramp up.
But Nash reiterated that James Harden, still rehabbing his right hamstring strain, is nowhere near a return.
“James probably is still a ways away,” Nash said. “But he’s working and getting better and improving and moving the right direction, and we’re all positive and optimistic about his long-term outlook. But I think we’ve still got plenty of time before we see him back on the floor.”
Harden, who missed a 13th straight game Friday, hasn’t played since limping off the court April 5 versus the Knicks. There are eight games left in the regular season, and Nash wouldn’t confirm that Harden will be back before the postseason.
“I don’t know if I want to forecast an opinion here. I’m not sure that serves any of us. Let me avoid the question and say we’ll see,” Nash said. “I’m not 100 percent certain he will or he won’t. That’s true.
“But I just don’t want to make a guess one side or the other because I don’t think it serves anyone, because it’s out of our control. We’re really waiting to see how he responds and how he heals and how quickly he gets there and then how quickly can he handle high-intensity, NBA-level work. I’ll have to say we’ll see. But both are possible.”
Irving returned to the lineup with a team-high 28 points after missing Thursday’s win at Indiana with a groin injury.
Durant, who was out Friday for management of his left hamstring, and Brown (sore right knee) are expected back Sunday.
“Kevin came out [of Thursday] well. I spoke to him, and he wanted to play [against Portland], so I had to be the Grinch and tell him that’s not on,” Nash said. “But he feels great, and he is progressing, and I’m really pleased with that. Obviously, he was terrific [Thursday] and against Toronto.”
Even though Harden and Claxton (health and safety protocols) aren’t expected to play Sunday, they’ll join the Nets on the road trip.
“Some of those decisions will be made between now and taking off, but I believe everybody’s coming,” Nash said. “So, even the guys that are out and rehabbing or in the stay-ready group, I think they’ll all be coming, and we’ll keep building.”
While Claxton missed a seventh straight game — and had been in the protocol since April 19, the day after the Nets played in Miami — he’s been cleared to resume practicing.
“Nic is back and working out, and we probably need a ramp-up period for him. I’m guessing but don’t expect to see Nic for at least a week,” Nash said. “He’s healthy. He just needs to get his fitness.”
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Brian Lewis