On Friday, the Brooklyn Nets announced that megastar forward Kevin Durant will be sidelined during the All-Star break after further testing has revealed that Durant will require an additional recovery period for his strained left hamstring.
The league quickly decided on a replacement. Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis has been tabbed as the next man up for the Eastern Conference.
According to an official release from the NBA, Sabonis will be a reserve on the squad and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum will take Durant’s spot in the starting lineup. This will be Sabonis’ second All-Star Game selection.
Durant will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break. He has missed nine of the Nets’ last 10 games. “It obviously sucks not having Kevin on the floor with us, but with that being said, we want him to be able to be 100-percent sure that he’s able to be out there and be healthy,” Nets’ center DeAndre Jordan said.
“He’s disappointed, clearly. He got himself through one of the most devastating injuries in basketball and playing at an All-Star level or even MVP level, and for it to kind of get shut down for a little while is very disappointing for him. Having said that, it could always be worse. So we’ll continue to monitor him and he’s going to be back this season, and we’ll all be grateful when that time comes, but not until he’s ready,” said Head Coach Steve Nash.
Meanwhile, Sabonis is averaging a career-high 21.5 points, 11.7 rebounds (fifth in the NBA), and a career-high 5.7 assists in 30 games this season. A five-year NBA veteran from Lithuania, he stands second in the league in double-doubles with 24 and has recorded three triple-doubles. He joins league veterans Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets, and Julius Randle of the New York Knicks as the only players who are averaging a minimum of 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game.
According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, Sabonis, who is in the first year of a 4-year, $75 million extension, will earn a $1.3 million bonus for being selected to the All-Star game as a replacement player.
Boston’s Tatum will be an All-Star starter for the first time by virtue of being the player in Durant’s position and conference with the next most votes. The 22-year-old is averaging a career-high 25.6 points per-game this season, and also makes the All-Star Game for a second straight season.
Per league rules, when a player selected to the All-Star Game is unable to participate, the Commissioner will choose a replacement from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. Durant and Sabonis both play for Eastern Conference teams.