Nets update status of Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin ahead of second half of season

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant dunks vs Denver Nuggets
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant dunks vs Denver Nuggets

Ahead of their first game back from the All-Star break, the Nets announced they'll will be without star Kevin Durant and recently signed forward Blake Griffin against the Celtics on Thursday.

Head coach Steve Nash spoke to media on Wednesday evening, giving some insight to Durant's injury and his status going forward.

"Kevin is getting better all the time, has a scan next week and we'll assess him then," Nash said. "But he hasn't played in a month basically. No matter what the scan says, there'll be an appropriate ramp up. Just try to make sure we put him in a position to finish the season strong."

The Nets officially signed Griffin on Monday, after the former All-Star was bought out by the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Nash would go on to talk about what he expects from the Slam Dunk champion, and how he can fit in to this roster.

"That comes down to assessing him, and having a plan in the coming days to give him the best opportunity to finish the season strong as well," Nash said. "He hasn't played in a while either. So although he's been working out individually, we want to be cautious and make sure our plan is comprehensive for him to succeed as well. Similar answer to Kevin, just want to make sure we take a good hard look and come up with a plan that everyone agrees upon and gives him a great chance to have an impact."

Griffin has drastically improved his three point shooting over the past couple of seasons. Over eight years (504 games) with the Los Angeles Clippers, he shot 31.6 percent on 0.9 attempts per game, compared to shooting 33.9 percent on 6.5 attempts per game in four seasons (138 games) with the Pistons.

"I think Blake is a small-ball-five who can make open threes," Nash said. "He's really good in the half role, playmaking, playing four-on-three, three-on-two, two-on-one situations. He's an intelligent player with great experience and IQ. There's plenty of ways I think he can adapt and help our team once he's fit and ready to go."

The five-time All-NBA forward played in only 18 games during the 2019-20 season, as he's dealt with knee injuries all throughout his career. Despite battling to stay healthy, Griffin has adapted to a more modern game, no longer relying on strictly alley-oop dunks to score.

"He's had a history of knee issues, he used to be a player that lived above the rim," Nash said. "So he's adapted and become a guy that handles the ball very well, passes very well, he's making threes. So he's adapted and changed his game, it's an attribute to the skill and intelligence he has as a basketball player.

"When you think of Blake Griffin in the first part of his career, you think of a high wire act. And now he's still able to be very productive doing other things, and not doing that. He's adjusted and changed his game and flourished in other ways with three-point shooting, with playmaking, ball handling. Those type of skills that are very valuable in today's game, but are obviously a different look from the Blake we became accustomed to in the early part of his career."

Griffin would join the Zoom call after Nash, and spoke to media for the first time as a member of the Nets. He made his injury status very clear, reiterating what Nash said about getting back to playing after not for about a month.

"There's a lot of reasons," Griffin said. "First of all, in my conversations with them leading up to this, obviously they expressed interest. Interest was mutual. Feel like they had a need for another big, another guy to facilitate and sort of fill these gaps. Anytime you have these type of players, you have to guys around them to relive that pressure. For me, it's about playing meaningful basketball, playing in the playoffs, and contending for a championship.

"I'm not injured, at all. I haven't played in three weeks. I think it's smart to sort of ramp me up, or actually almost four weeks now. There's no injury... Honestly I'll have to sit with the performance staff here. I haven't met with them, but they're putting a plan together. My trust is in them. And we'll talk about it on Thursday or Friday, and put a plan together and really figure out an exact date."

During his time with the Clippers, Griffin was teammates with All-Star guard Chris Paul, three-point specialist J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, and Deandre Jordan. That group of players helped the Clippers win two Pacific Division titles (2012-13, 2013-14) and six-straight playoff appearances. However, they never made it past the conference semi-finals as Griffin now hopes to contend for a title this season in Brooklyn.

"There's always that competitive side in basketball," Griffin said. "Every year, previous years in Detroit, our goal was to get to the playoffs. And we did that two years ago. And that's great, but my main focus now is to contend for a championship. My mindset doesn't change, I'm always trying to win a basketball game when I step on the court. But playing these meaningful minutes, playing with these guys. Really contributing in any way possible.

Not saying to shoulder the whole load with certain teams, but I had a little bit more of that in Detroit with a younger team, more of a mentor role. Now this sort of reminds me of playing with some of those Clippers teams where we had so many veteran guys, so many experienced guys. There's a feeling, I guess, even in practice tonight. You know the ultimate goal, you know the big goal, the main focus. It's exciting to have that."