Las Vegas — For three years, Nets general manager Sean Marks laid the groundwork to have the salary-cap room to be competitive at the top level of the 2019 free-agent market while coach Kenny Atkinson developed the complementary pieces to attract star players. So imagine their shared horror while watching Kevin Durant suffer a ruptured right Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June.
Marks and Atkinson spoke to the media for the first time on Tuesday about the Nets’ recent acquisitions of Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, and they admitted their angst about seeing Durant go down with an injury that likely will cost him the entire 2019-20 season.
“I’m watching the game, and to see anybody go down and get hurt that’s devastating,” Marks said. “To happen at that moment, that time, irrespective of free agency … Now, I’d be lying, too, if I said it didn’t bother us at all. We were all taken aback. Now, we’ve got to dig into what does that look like for our franchise?”
Atkinson immediately began texting with Marks when Durant went down. “You know, jeez, this could change things,” Atkinson said. “And then, we took a couple of deep breaths and obviously got more information and that made the decision easier.”
Durant headed from Toronto to New York where his Achilles injury was repaired by Dr. Martin O’Malley, who is part of the Nets’ medical team. Marks convened a meeting of the team’s performance staff to watch video of Durant’s injury and offer their advice on whether the Nets should commit on a four-year contract worth $164 million for a player who would sit out a year and possibly not return as the same player.
Summarizing the result of the meeting, Marks said, “The performance team voted, ‘Yup, we’re all in.’”
Marks said it still is too early to provide a timeline for Durant’s recovery. Durant, O’Malley and the Nets’ performance team met for the first time Monday for a full evaluation. “They got their hands on him and explained to him, this is what the program looks like,” Marks said. “I can’t speak for Kevin, but I assume there’s a level of comfort knowing Dr. O’Malley is in New York.”
Hill re-signs with Bucks
The Bucks re-signed free agent guard George Hill to a three-year deal. Hill, who was acquired from Cleveland in December in a five-player, three-team trade, averaged 6.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists with the Bucks last season.
Clippers sign picks
The Clippers signed draft picks and former Florida State teammates Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann. Kabengele was selected 27th overall in the first round of last month’s draft.
Kabengele, a 6-foot-10 forward, averaged 13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in two seasons with the Seminoles.
Mann was picked 48th overall in the second round. He averaged 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds as a senior.