by Fred Kerber
New York Post (Not Online)
October 28, 2006
In Antoine Wright's assessment, "the key word is comfortable." Wright is comfortable this year - with the Nets, with his game, with his role. And he's a little more comfortable with his finances and his future after the Nets picked up the option on his third year ($1,570,920) yesterday, part of a strategy that also saw them exercise Nenad Krstic's fourth-season option.
"Everybody is comfortable in knowing what is expected of them when they get on the court whereas last year guys were like, 'I don't know my role yet; I'm still getting it,' " Wright said before the Nets and Knicks finished their preseason schedules last night at the Meadowlands. "Now guys pretty much know what they need to be doing." Wright's observation after having his role defined is not new. Cliff Robinson has made the same claim throughout preseason. Last year, with the likes of veterans Jeff McInnis, Marc Jackson, Lamond Murray and Scott Padgett searching for playing time and roles, the situation was, well, not defined.
Plus, there was an ongoing trend toward fearing any kind of failure.
Mess up and sit. Wright insists all those obstacles are gone.
"I think coach has done a good job recognizing that was a problem and he's given guys a little bit more of a leash to go out and make a mistake and not have to worry about coming out or worry about him not having confidence in you," said Wright, who last season worried constantly about all those things. "He has done a good job of recognizing it." And Wright has done a good job of recognizing what he needs to do. He is being handed a much bigger role, one with more responsibility: backing up both Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.
Hey, they're giving him the bucks. Now he has to earn them. But Wright has made believers so far.
"He's playing confidently," Jefferson said of Wright, who was shooting .523 and averaging 13.7 points.
Although Wright is getting nice numbers, he's happiest with his progression as a player.
"I think I've done a good job of turning myself into a playmaker," he said. "It's not about coming in and making five shots off the bench. It's about coming in and making five plays."
While picking up Krstic's $1,080,480 option for this season was a nobrainer, the young center seemed genuinely grateful.
"It means a lot. I really like it want to be here. It's a good situation," he said . . . Josh Boone's rehab progresses. He did some agility drills on the court yesterday . . . Eddie House, with the stitches out of his left knee, did some light shooting and upper body work. "I feel good, just have to get on a bike see how that goes, no resistance really," said House, who will begin his pool work next week.