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Nets’ Kevin Durant to miss a week because of COVID-19 exposure


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Nets star Kevin Durant is expected to need a full week of quarantine due to contact tracing/exposure to COVID-19.

A league source confirmed that Durant had not tested positive for coronavirus but was simply going through contact tracing, according to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, after coming in contact with a positive COVID-19 case.

He will miss four games against the Jazz, 76ers, Grizzlies and Thunder in his seven-day quarantine. Theoretically, Durant would be available for the Jan. 12 tilt against the Nuggets.

The Nets are 3-4 going into Tuesday’s game against Utah, on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Durant is averaging a team-high 28.2 points, third-best in the league, and would be a huge loss for a team struggling to find its footing.

The 32-year-old revealed that he’d had coronavirus back in May, during the league shutdown. He continues to register antibodies and has tested negative in multiple recent tests, according to ESPN.

When someone in a player’s family — or those living in close contact — test positive, the player is then put in quarantine. The NBA’s rules don’t distinguish between a player who tested positive or one who passed three tests, as Durant has.

Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant
Getty Images

Brooklyn has suffered through more cases than any other team in the NBA, with Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince and Landry Shamet having all tested positive either after the March shutdown or before the restart. Three others Nets tested positive in March, while former Net Garrett Temple tested positive recently as well.

While staying healthy was always going to be the key to Brooklyn’s season — considering Durant’s return from a ruptured Achilles and Kyrie Irving’s shoulder surgery — that also applies to steering clear of the coronavirus.

“You’re going to have 10 guys draped all over each other at some point of your practice for 30, 45 minutes of practice,” said Nets coach Steve Nash. “To be prepared to play the sport at this level, let alone any level, you’ve got to play, bump up against each other. It’s a leap of faith in that we’re going to rely on our protocols, our medical staff, our day-to-day structure to protect ourselves the best we possibly can.

“But there’s an evergreen risk with this virus, not just contracting it but all the unknowns. We’ll do the best we can, but at some point we have to play the game, and you can’t not train the way you play … a contact with a group of players on the court, five, six, seven, eight guys in the paint. So that’s just a hazard of playing sports in this pandemic, and we’re just doing the best we can.”

The Nets are expected to apply for a disabled player exception with the season-ending ACL injury to Dinwiddie, according to ESPN. The exception would be for $5.7 million, or half his salary. Once granted, they can use it to acquire a player in final the year of a deal, although they’d still need to clear a roster spot.

Full use of the exception would push Brooklyn’s luxury tax bill to $43 million, at a time when owner Joe Tsai has taken losses due to the drop in value of Alibaba stock. Still, the Nets will benefit somewhat from a projected tax credit thanks to the NBA’s declining revenues amid the pandemic. What would’ve been a $59 million tax bill would be just $31 million sans DPE, according to ESPN.

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