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For Booker and Foye, opportunities to play and lead

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Trevor Booker was always part of the Nets Plan “A”. They signed him early, agreeing to pay him $18.4 million over two years. Randy Foye was recruited after the Nets lost out on bids for Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe. He’s on a one-year $2.5 million deal.

Now, they’re two of Kenny Atkinson’s mainstays, as Ryan Lazo of the Post and Greg Logan of Newsday report.

Booker is a sure starter, a top defensive player last year, but he didn’t do much on offense in preseason. Atkinson wants the 28-year-old to be more aggressive at the 4.

“We’re telling him to unleash it,” Atkinson said. “That’s where he has to adjust from being a backup. … We tell him, ‘You’re a starting power forward. You have freedom to make mistakes, defend your butt off and make aggressive plays.’ ”

In the last preseason game, Booker had 11 points and 12 rebounds, a positive. But he can’t leave the defense behind.

“I’m looking to go out there and play with a lot of energy on the defensive end,” Booker said. “Just frustrate the whole team, not just one player and try to get my teammates doing the same thing.”

Foye is a possibility at the 2, battling Bojan Bogdanovic. His stats during preseason were not as good as Bogdanovic, but he was +19 on a team that won one of six games. He also may be better suited to play alongside Jeremy Lin because of his experience playing both guard slots.

“Randy gives us a physicality,” Atkinson said Sunday of the 33-year-old. “He’s very strong, he knows our schemes, he’s a smart player and he has a toughness about him. Then he has NBA savvy because he’s been in the league so long. That gives me a comfort level. I think it gives our team a more solid feeling defensively when he’s out there.”

Despite punditry that has the Nets failing on the court, Foye thinks the team’s fortunes could turn on what they’re doing off the court.

“It’s multiple guys going out to eat, going to the movies, doing things that good teams do,” Foye said. “Last year, when I was in Oklahoma City, that was something they did. Just building that and laughing and joking and having fun away from the basketball court means a lot for a winning atmosphere.”

Atkinson hasn’t showed his hand yet on the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game in Boston, but the two may very well be on it.