Brooklyn Nets star James Harden has been ruled out of an NBA return indefinitely, throwing the Eastern Conference race wide open.
Harden had been out of action for most of April after suffering a hamstring strain, aggravating it during an April 5 victory over the New York Knicks.
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The 31-year-old has been sidelined since, but the Nets announced on Wednesday that the former MVP had again aggravated it during an on-court rehab session.
Following an MRI, the star guard was sidelined until further notice, joining teammate and fellow former MVP Kevin Durant on the sidelines.
“We’re back to square one,” Nets coach Steve Nash said, via ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
“He will be back when he’s back. It might be the playoffs. It might be sooner.
"And we'll support James and we'll support our performance team in getting him back in his best condition as possible. And hopefully that comes sooner than later, but there's no guarantee.
"We just keep chipping away, we keep moving forward and we hope for a speedy recovery."
The Nets did not provide a timeline as to when Harden will return.
They have 15 games left in the regular season, starting with Tuesday night’s matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Harden, who was traded to Brooklyn in a blockbuster deal in January, has averaged 25.4 points, 11 assists and 8.7 rebounds over 34 games for the Nets. The 31-year-old is in the second year of a four-year, $171 million deal.
James Harden injury further complicates Nets' season
In addition to Harden now being sidelined indefinitely, the Nets are also taking a cautious approach with Durant.
The 32-year-old forward suffered a thigh contusion in a game against the Miami Heat earlier this week, with the Nets not keen to rush Durant back in his first season after recovering from a torn achilles tendon.
Nash said it will likely be Monday at the earliest before the team knows whether it will keep the two-time NBA Finals MVP out of more games.
"He's sore," Nash said.
"But we don't know how severe.
"We'll see tomorrow how he wakes up and go from there."
The Heat won the game 109-107, on a buzzer-beating jumper by Bam Adebayo.
Durant exited with 7:57 minutes to go in the opening quarter, scoring Brooklyn's first eight points of the game before coming out.
He has missed 33 games this season, 24 of those related to a left hamstring injury, six in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus and three more for injury management.
"The timing of everything this season, this year, it's just a tell-tale sign of what life is right now in terms of the uncertainty of a lot going on," Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving said.
"Anything can happen at any moment. ... We just pray that it's not too serious and he's able to recover."
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