Kevin Durant will be eligible to return to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, head coach Steve Nash said following his side’s 124-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
On Friday, Durant drove with a team employee who later that evening returned a positive test for COVID-19 during the Nets’ home loss to the Toronto Raptors, according to ESPN. The NBA’s health and safety protocols state that any player exposed to someone with COVID-19 must quarantine for six days.
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Durant was maskless in a car on Friday with the team employee three separate times, sources told ESPN. The Nets’ star drove with the employee to the practice facility for testing, to his home from testing and to the game. The NBA’s COVID-19 guidelines prohibit players and staff from commuting together without wearing protective face coverings.
The employee returned an inconclusive test result, and the Nets informed the league office of those results on Friday afternoon. Minutes before tipoff versus Toronto, the Nets were instructed to pull Durant out of pregame warm-ups. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks had been on the phone with the league office and delivered word down to the court.
Durant returned midway through the first quarter and helped the Nets come back from a once double-digit deficit.
“Durant was initially held out of the game while that result was being reviewed,” a league statement released Friday night said. “Under the league’s health and safety protocols, we do not require a player to be quarantined until a close contact has a confirmed positive test.”
The Nets staff member returned a positive test during the game, and Durant was pulled during a third quarter timeout after playing 19 minutes.
All other Nets players and staff members continued to test negative for the coronavirus, sources told ESPN. Toronto did not return any positive tests.
Durant – who is averaging 29.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 34.6 minutes this season – tested positive for COVID-19 in March, has continued to register antibodies, but has tested negative for the virus seven times over the past three days.
The NBA’s COVID-19 protocols do not differentiate between players who have antibodies and those who do not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibodies are “proteins that help fight off infections and can provide protection against getting that disease again.”