Kevin Durant was out for the season.
That was before the four-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic opened the door to questions about his status for a potential return during the revised playoffs with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets, who are hopeful Kyrie Irving will be able to play at some point after NBA action resumes July 31, have said there are no plans for Durant to play. Durant had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles on June 12, 2019, and was not expected to return to the court until the 2020-21 season.
Durant left the Golden State Warriors a few weeks after the surgery to join the Nets and team with Irving, who is on the mend from March 28 shoulder surgery. Irving is unlikely to be cleared until late August at the very earliest.
But sportsbooks aren’t taking any chances.
Caesars Sportsbook dropped Brooklyn’s championship odds from 750-1 all the way to 60-1 on Wednesday.
Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis told ESPN, “I would rather be cautious and deal 60-1 than get hurt when we hear news [of Durant and Irving returning]. I don’t want to post 150-1 odds, and the problem is you take a bet of a couple thousand and it pays $300,000 and you’re stuck if [Durant is] good.”
Other books follow suit
DraftKings lists the Milwaukee Bucks (+240) as slight championship favorites over the Los Angeles Lakers (+270) but has not released current odds for the 22-team playoff field. FanDuel moved the Nets to 60-1 to win the NBA title.
Fan Duel has nearly identical odds among the favorites with the Los Angeles Clippers third (+340) and a big dropoff to the Houston Rockets (+1200), who are fourth.
The Lakers are the favorites at Caesars with 2-1 odds.
If Nets general manager Sean Marks knows Durant’s status, he isn’t tipping his hand.
“He knows his body better than anybody,” Marks told Newshub of New Zealand last month about Durant. “Our performance team and training staff have done a tremendous job getting him to this point, but I just don’t know how coming out of this pandemic will affect anybody, let alone Kevin.”
Durant, 31, was injured during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals as a member of the Warriors. He signed a four-year, $164 million deal with the Nets as a free agent in July.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)