The wait for Kevin Durant's return is reportedly expected to end on March 1, according to the Athletic's Shams Charania Wednesday.
Based on Charania's report, Durant's Phoenix Suns debut would be hosted by the Charlotte Hornets. This is slightly behind the timeline presented by a recent ESPN report from Brian Windhorst, who estimated Durant would return as early as Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Durant, 34, has not played since he sprained his MCL on Jan. 8. He sustained the knee injury while playing for the Nets in a win over the Miami Heat, when he collided with Heat forward Jimmy Butler.
Since then, a lot has changed for the 14-year NBA veteran. He was traded from the Brooklyn Nets after three tumultuous seasons in a blockbuster move that sent Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and four unprotected first-round draft picks to Brooklyn. Now, Phoenix and Durant have been injected with optimism and excitement.
This was evidenced by his introductory news conference with the Suns that was absolutely packed with fans and highlighted by Durant saying that this edition of the Suns has what it takes to win a championship.
Durant took part in his first practice session with the Suns on Feb. 13. He reportedly "looked great," and even played 1-on-1 with Suns assistant coach Jarrett Jack without a knee brace. Still, team officials ruled him out for Phoenix's final two games before the All-Star break against the Kings and Clippers. His minutes will likely be limited during his first appearance.
Durant wore No. 7 during his time in Brooklyn, but will return to No. 35 when he makes his Suns debut. That's the same number he wore early in his career for the Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Golden State Warriors.
Before his injury, the two-time NBA Finals MVP was averaging 30 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting a career-high 56% from the floor and 37.6% from 3-point distance in 38 games.