Nets may avoid the worst even with Kevin Durant ruled out

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Kevin Durant has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game in New Orleans with a left thigh contusion suffered in the stunning loss at Miami. Still, there are at least somewhat auspicious signs that the injury may not be that severe or long term.

The Nets didn’t practice Monday, but after Durant was re-evaluated in the morning, the team apparently didn’t think his injury was serious enough to warrant any imaging or to be sent back to New York. Sources told The Post that he’s still with the team on the road trip, which could be viewed as encouraging.

Injuries have become a running Nets storyline. James Harden (right hamstring strain), Tyler Johnson (knee soreness), Chris Chiozza (fractured right hand) and Spencer Dinwiddie (ACL) are all out hurt. Young big men Nic Claxton and Reggie Perry will also sit out the Pelicans game due to health and safety protocols.

Harden was slated to work out Monday, and Steve Nash said the guard needed a couple more high-intensity practices before he can return. The Nets have a back-to-back in New Orleans and at Tampa’s Amalie Arena versus the Raptors. As far as Claxton and Perry, “health and safety protocols” has been league shorthand for COVID-19 issues, sometimes positive tests but more often contact tracing.

Durant missed 18 months with a ruptured Achilles suffered June 2019 playing in the NBA Finals for Golden State. He also contracted COVID-19, dealt with contact tracing quarantines in both January and February, and finally missed 23 straight games with a left hamstring strain.

After returning on April 7, Durant had played just five games — resting April 14 in Philadelphia on the tail end of a back-to-back — before suffering his latest injury. He was forced from the Miami game after just 4:03 when he was fouled by Trevor Ariza and inadvertently took a knee to the thigh from the Heat veteran.

“I think we’re all just relieved it was just a contusion. I think it’ll be a day-to-day thing,” Jeff Green had said of Durant. “I know he’s bummed that it’s happened frequently over the last couple of weeks and he wants to be out there playing. I’m sure he’s going to do whatever he needs to do to get back on the floor.

“You hate to see a guy go down, but you’ve got to focus on what we need to accomplish to put ourselves in a good position toward the end of the season. So, James, hopefully he comes back soon, and hopefully KD has a speedy recovery on the contusion, and then everybody to be healthy. It’s just a matter of when. And when they do come back, we’ve just got to prepare ourselves for what’s going to be next, whether that’s ten games at the end of the season or come playoffs.”

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