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Kevin Durant’s presence around Nets felt in a big way

Nets, Kevin Durant, NBA

Kevin Durant joined the Brooklyn Nets prior to the start of this season, leaving the Golden State Warriors after winning a pair of championships. Unfortunately, the former No. 2 overall pick has not played a single game with his new team yet, as he’s still recovering from an Achilles injury. Despite this fact, his presence with the team is being felt in a big way.

Though he’s not playing, several members of the team have been outspoken about what it means to have Durant on the roster and around the team of late. Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored 22 points in Tuesday night’s win over the Western Conference-leading Lakers, says a lot of his teammates look up to Durant.

“A lot of people on the team look up to him,” LeVert said, via Mark Medina of USA TODAY Sports. “Having him around is huge for the morale of the team. When he speaks, he’s very intelligent and everyone is all ears.”

Nets guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot echoed LeVert’s sentiments, noting that everyone on the team respects what Durant has to say:

“Everybody respects what he says,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said of Durant. “He’s been working his (tail) off on the other side in the morning with some guys. It’s great to have him, especially here against big teams. We listen to and appreciate everything he says.”

Durant, now 31 years of age, has spent all of this season rehabbing his injury. According to most accounts, he’s progressing well and hasn’t had any setbacks. In fact, he’s already participating in four-on-four drills, though it’s not clear when he’ll be cleared for five-on-five action:

Lately, Durant has also become more visible around the Nets, traveling with them to Miami for a Feb. 29 game. After initially planning not to attend the Nets’ latest trip to Los Angeles, Durant changed his itinerary.

“It’s a joy having him around to be able to bounce ideas off of him and to get his reactions throughout the course of the game,” Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn said. “To be a teammate and have him sit next to you, give you confidence and give you support and give you guidance, it’s a luxury.”

Though he’s not expected to play this season, there have been reports indicating that Durant might be open to participating in the 2020 Olympics. For now, though, The Slim Reaper will do everything in his power to finish out his rehabilitation on a high note.