Kevin Durant had COVID-19 last March, yet he has been one of the players most impacted by the league’s preventative measures against it so far this season. The Brooklyn Nets star missed three games in January due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Mere minutes before tipoff against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, he was held out yet again. in what turned out to be one of the strangest sagas of the season.
Kevin Durant is undergoing contact tracing, sources tell @malika_andrews and me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2021
This time, he underwent contact tracing that prevented him from starting, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews. This is where things get complicated. Durant was then allowed to enter the game midway through the first quarter, marking his first appearance off of the bench as an NBA player. It was reported that he did not need to undergo further testing, but someone he came into contact with did. He was cleared, played a good chunk of the game, and then, according to Andrews, was pulled out of the game in the third quarter due to the league’s health and safety protocols. It is not fully clear what happened that caused him to be taken back out.
Kevin Durant is out for the remainder of the game due to health and safety protocols. After missing the beginning of the game and subsequently being cleared to play, Durant is unable to play at the direction of the league, a source told ESPN.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 6, 2021
The NBA’s health and safety protocols make no distinction between players who already have COVID-19 and those who haven’t. If rules are violated, players are held out as a precaution against spreading the virus. The Nets, as a team, have not had any games postponed due to the coronavirus, nor have any of their best players missed significant court time due to the virus this season.
Durant’s absence forced the Nets to start Bruce Brown in his place against a suddenly resurgent Raptors team that has won seven of its last 11 games after starting the season at the bottom of the standings. The Nets entered Friday tied with the Milwaukee Bucks two games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets have had a turbulent start to the season thanks to Kyrie Irving’s unplanned absence and the depth lost in the James Harden trade, so every regular-season game counts. Now, this uncertainty surrounding Durant only complicates their push for home-court advantage.