NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 27: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets speaks to media during Brooklyn Nets Media Day at HSS Training Center on September 27, 2019 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Stephen A. Smith has a few words of advice for the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant, but the superstar forward doesn’t need his help.

Danny Small

Earlier this week, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks wouldn’t rule out a Kevin Durant return if the NBA picks up the 2019-20 season.

“That’s a $110 million question,” Marks said to Newshub of New Zealand. “In all seriousness, we’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot… He knows his body better than anybody. Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him to this point, but I just don’t know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.”

All season long, the company line in regards to Durant has been, “there’s no way he plays this season.” Now, it appears that the hiatus is leaving open the possibility for a dramatic return. At the very least, Marks is leaving the door slightly ajar.

Of course, even as Marks explains that Durant “knows his body better than anybody,” pundits and talking heads are going to chime in. Stephen A. Smith flew off the handle on Wednesday morning during ESPN’s “First Take.” The talk-show host spent more energy bloviating on Durant’s specific scenario and reacting wildly to Marks’ comments.

“I think it would be foolhardy for Kevin Durant to even think about playing,” Smith said. “Understand that you’re 30-34… But if I’m Kevin Durant, first of all, I want to ensure that I’m 100%. Secondly, I would prefer that Kyrie Irving be there with me. Thirdly, and more importantly, when I come back, I still want to ease my way into it — even though I can average 25 [points per game] in my sleep.”

Rebutting Smith

First point: Coming back 100%

OK, Smith actually starts out strong here. We don’t know what percentage Durant is at right now, and he shouldn’t rush back at 75-90% for a playoff push during this stunted season.

With all that said, Durant was prepping to play in the Olympics before coronavirus altered those plans. Basketball at the Olympics was supposed to start on July 26. If the NBA has to wait for late July to begin the season, it’s reasonable to think that Durant could be 100% healthy by that point.

Second point: Kyrie Irving healthy

Sure, another good point. The Nets won’t reach their absolute peak until they have Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy together.

Irving dealt with multiple injuries throughout the season and only appeared in 20 games during his debut season in Brooklyn. The All-NBA point guard underwent surgery on his right shoulder in early March.

However, he too might be healthy enough to play by the time the NBA starts back up again. We have no idea what his progress is considering the fact that the Nets are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to injury timelines.

Thirdly: Ease into it

Coming back from an Achilles injury is no joke, but Durant won’t be the only one trying to ease his way back into the swing of things. The league is going to need to establish some sort of runway for players to get back in playing shape. Whether that’s a shortened finish to the regular season or simply a few weeks of training camp, Durant should have the necessary time to “ease into it.”

In fact, Durant might not even feel like he’s that far behind the rest of his peers when the NBA finally does return.

Brooklyn has a three-to-four year championship window. Obviously, jeopardizing Durant’s long-term health is a no-no, but wasting a crack at a title out of fear isn’t the way to go.

Final Thoughts

We all have our own advice for Durant. Come back and try to steal a championship during an otherwise lost season.

No, don’t do that. Put yourself on ice until the 2020-21 season and then make a real run at a championship.

Simply put, Durant doesn’t need any of our advice. The Nets have said many times that the decision to return is in Durant’s court and his court alone.

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