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Will Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, Ben Simmons return this season for Nets?

Brooklyn’s rotation is missing some massive players as the team gears up for the stretch run.

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets reacts to an officials call during the first half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center on January 12, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets are still the favorites to make the NBA Finals out of the East per DraftKings Sportsbook despite some turmoil within the franchise. The Nets were able to get Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and draft picks in the James Harden trade, which will bolster their rotation. However, the statuses of Kevin Durant and Joe Harris will ultimately determine whether the Nets hit their potential as a championship team.

Kevin Durant/Joe Harris/Ben Simmons injury updates

April 4 update: Simmons will not play in the play-in tournament for the Nets, per head coach Steve Nash. The guard is already set to miss the rest of the regular season per Adrian Wojnarowksi. This trade for Simmons continues to look poor for the Nets, who have championship aspirations with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. We’ll see if Simmons does suit up at any point this season.

April 1 update: According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Simmons might not be ready for the start of the playoffs assuming the Nets make it. This would include any play-in tournament games Brooklyn would have to play to qualify. It seems like the major acquisition from the James Harden trade won’t be suiting up for his new team anytime soon, although it is now due to a back ailment rather than a mental hurdle.

March 29 update: According to head coach Steve Nash, Simmons has not done any work on the court or made any progress since the last update two weeks ago. It’s not looking good for the Nets guard in terms of returning to the court, but the plan is still to have him at some point this season.

March 16 update: Ben Simmons received an epidural injection for his back injury, and remains out indefinitely. The Nets do expect him to play this season at some point, but this injury is trending in the wrong direction quickly for the guard. According to ESPN reporters Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the hope is for Simmons to return for a few games ahead of the playoffs.

March 10 update: Simmons has appeared with the team in Philadelphia, with his intentions potentially being more about recouping money than showing he’s fit to play. Harris has been ruled out for the rest of the season and Durant is back on the floor, so Simmons is the last domino here for the Nets as they attempt to get out of the play-in tournament in the East. Brooklyn is currently the the No. 8 seed and is 5.5 games back of the No. 6 seed Cavaliers.

March 2 update: Durant is expected to return to the lineup Thursday vs. the Miami Heat.

February 28 update: Durant will miss at least the next two games for the Nets. So that’s Monday and Tuesday night. There’s hope Durant could get back in the lineup either Thursday vs. the Heat or Sunday vs. the Celtics.

February 27 update: Durant has been ruled out of Monday’s game against the Raptors, and is unlikely to play in Tuesday’s game against Toronto as well. However, the fact that he’s showing up on the day-to-day injury report for Brooklyn is a good sign during this final stretch of the season. The Nets are +245 to win the East and +475 to win the NBA title per DraftKings Sportsbook, and Durant’s return is a big reason why those odds are what they are.

February 26 update: The Nets are saying Simmons will be out indefinitely with a back issue, saying he needs more time to strengthen the muscles before returning to action. This puts more pressure on Durant, who is slated to return next week.

February 26 update: The Nets say they expect Durant to be back at some point within the next week, which is excellent news for a team that is in the play-in tournament at the moment. Durant not only changes the Nets on a day-to-day basis, he will elevate the ceiling for the roster. There are still no updates on Harris or Simmons, but Durant is the major piece Brooklyn needs back.

Simmons is still in the process of ramping up to return, and he’s publicly said he has no timetable for coming back. He hasn’t played a game since last summer, which has certainly impacted his physical and mental state. We’ll see if he does eventually return.

Durant is dealing with a knee injury he suffered January 15 and was initially listed as out for 4-6 weeks. The forward didn’t play in the All-Star Game and seems close to coming back. Given Durant’s history with injuries, the team is going to tread cautiously. However, there is going to have to be some give and take with Brooklyn currently in the play-in tournament after a lengthy losing streak. Look for Durant to come back at some point in March.

Harris remains out indefinitely with an ankle injury. He hasn’t played since November and there’s a possibility of him having another surgery. The sharpshooter’s absence is somewhat mitigated by Curry but you can never have too much shooting in the NBA. There’s little reason to believe he’ll return during the regular season, but Harris could be a vital part of the playoff rotation in Brooklyn.

Until these players come back, Kyrie Irving, Patty Mills and Curry will be the focal points of the offense. Simmons will command some attention if he returns but that’s a huge hypothetical right now. As far as betting the Nets goes, their future odds are a much safer play than day-to-day games. Irving is still ineligible to play in New York City, although the rules will be changing soon. Until Durant comes back, the Nets just aren’t worth backing in regular season games.