Kenny Atkinson provided a small update on D’Angelo Russell at Monday’s practice, the team’s first since arriving back from a west coast road trip where Russell suffered a left knee contusion.
“We’re taking it day by day. Hope he improves. I think it’s day to day. I think we’ll just keep reevaluate him day to day. I really don’t want to put a timetable on it and give you false expectations,” Atkinson told the media Monday.
That’s a bit more, but not much, than what the Nets reported on Sunday, saying that “return-to-play updates will be provided as appropriate. (Adrian Wojnarowski said the Nets guard would “likely” miss “several games.”)
Enter Spencer Dinwiddie.
Dinwiddie is back and healthy after missing the Utah game where Russell was out with sore hamstring. He practiced on Monday and will start Tuesday against the Celtics, per Atkinson. Dinwiddie says sitting out in Salt Lake was purely precautionary.
“Our performance staff does a great job and because we’re in the culture of development and progression they’re obviously very cautious with all of our players,” Dinwiddie said. “It was kind of a performance staff decision. I feel good. I’m not worried, I’m fine.”
It’s a familiar situation for Dinwiddie, who came in and started last season in the absence of Jeremy Lin. Now, he’s starting for Russell. Next man up and all that.
Dinwiddie, who had a career-night in Russell’s absence vs. the Cavaliers, will look to return to that form Tuesday and for as long Russell is out.
Coach Atkinson is looking to mix and match some combinations out there, and reiterates that the Nets are still better equipped to handle such injuries this time around compared to last season when Lin missed 46 games and Greivis Vasquez was bought out after playing three games.
“Maybe we’re not there but I hope with the way we played that we do have different guys bringing it up so it’s not that traumatic,” said Atkinson. “I look at these things as opportunity to develop some guys. I feel a lot more confident – Isaiah (Whitehead)’s got some NBA games under his belt. Spencer’s had all year. I think our roster is a lot better equipped this year to deal with guys being out.”
So we’ll have to wait and see, starting with Boston tomorrow.