The magical summer where Kevin Durant returns to action for the Brooklyn Nets? It's probably not going to happen, even with the season delayed thanks to the coronavirus.
Durant ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, which has left him sidelined for the entirety of the 2019-20 season. But with the NBA season on pause, is there a chance Durant will return to action?
"Honestly, it's not very realistic from my standpoint," Durant's agent Rich Kleiman said, according to ESPN. "And it's not even spoken about. It clearly was not something that was in the cards prior to all this."
In an ideal world, the NBA will return to action after its 30-day hiatus, but that seems more and more unlikely as the United States becomes swallowed up by the coronavirus outbreak.
If the season resumes, there are two scenarios that could play out — each could have an entirely different outcome.
Let's break down the two scenarios and include what each could mean for the Nets moving forward.
NBA regular season resumes
If and when the 2019-20 basketball season resumes, let's say the NBA decides to play the remainder of regular-season games.
The Nets sit seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with a 30-34 record despite being without the services of Durant and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. This would mean they're in a playoff spot and, if the regular season resumes, can fight to gain some ground in the standings.
With the slightest chance Durant returns to action, the Nets could become a serious threat to the teams above them in the standings, including the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.
Even with a Durant return, however, they don't have the easiest schedule remaining. Brooklyn would take on the second-place Los Angeles Clippers twice, the first-place Milwaukee Bucks twice and a matchup with the third-place Celtics.
That Achilles tendon injury certainly will limit Durant at times if he's able to return to action, and he won't be at his best in a time when each and every team will be vying for a playoff spot.
To put it simply, it would be hard for the Nets to make a significant jump in the standings with a limited Durant and no Irving.
Another scenario would be for the NBA to head straight to the playoffs, meaning every team who currently is in a playoff spot would make it — and those on the cusp wouldn't.
Now, like we said above, the Nets are in a playoff spot, but that may not be the best situation for them at the moment.
Brooklyn, as it stands, would be headed toward a first-round matchup with the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors. With players like Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell, the Nets certainly would have their hands full, even if Durant returns.
How could a team like the Nets compete with the Raptors in an intense playoff matchup? And how would Durant be ready for playoff action?
It's simple: They can't, and Durant wouldn't be ready.
Sure, Durant is an All-Star player, but he won't be able to effectively help the Nets in key situations coming off injury.
With that said, if it was between the regular season resuming and the playoffs starting immediately, would that impact Durant's return to action?
It's possible. If he's desperate to help his team reach the second round of the playoffs, maybe we'll see him return sooner rather than later.