When Nik Stauskas got the call, that he’d been traded to the Nets, he knew he’d had a teammate he could lean on. Not only was Caris LeVert his teammate at Michigan. For two years, they were roommates.
“I’ve stayed in touch a little bit with Caris,” said Stauskas. “I didn’t know too much about how the organization ran. From when I got here last couple of days talking to Caris, all he says is (this is a) first-class organization on and off the court. And that’s something that I’m excited to be a part of.
“Caris and I go back to the Michigan days. We were very close. We were roommates for two full years, so we spent a lot of time together on and off the court. So I feel like we’re pretty close.”
That’s a good thing for a team that wants to be all about brotherhood and trust. It’s hard to get closer than sharing laundry baskets. For the record, the two years would be LeVert’s first two years at Michigan, and Stauskas’ only two.
“I think it’s good just to come in and be familiar with someone, not just complete strangers,” said Stauskas. “To have someone that I’m comfortable with that I’ve been friends with for a while that’s always good. And then on the court, I already feel like we have some chemistry in past years.”
It’s chemistry the Nets hope can work. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, LeVert’s “swing brother” last year, moving up front, they could go form a new bond.
Stauskas also formed another bond this weekend with the Nets coaching staff, particularly Kenny Atkinson.
Stauskas, along with Okafor, worked out with the Nets coaching staff on Sunday morning upon the team’s return from Mexico. From there, and Stauskas’ first team practice on Monday, he was able to get a glimpse at the offense and his utilization going forward. He also got a message from one of the staff about what the Nets expect from him.
“I’m very excited. From talking with coach (Kenny) Atkinson, the offense that they run here, I’m very suitable for that,” said Stauskas. “It’s something that I’m comfortable with. When I first came here, I can’t remember who it was, someone told me ‘shoot to kill.’ And I think that’s a good motto to live by. I’m very excited to get involved in that.”.
Unlike some of his teammates, you won’t have to tell Stauskas twice to let fly. Stauskas has a reputation of being a shooter dating back to his time at Michigan where he shot 44% from three in both seasons, one of which ended in the NCAA Championship game.
No matter what his role is, the 24-year-old said he’s ready for it ... and ready for the reset.
“I haven’t really talked to coach too much with coach yet about what my role is going to be with the team or what to expect early on” he said. “I get a chance to press the reset button. I’m just looking to come in here and get better every day.
“The first thing I noticed coming in here is how big they are on player development, and just getting better every day. That’s something that I truly believe in, something that’s helped me get to this point in my career. So hopefully I can continue doing that.”
It is his third team in four years and like Okafor, he’s disappointed. He’s only logged 45 minutes through six games this season despite having his best season last year, averaging 9.5 points in 80 games — 27 starts, shooting 36.8 percent from three. Why’d fall out of the rotation? The 76ers signed J.J. Redick to a one-year, $23 million contract. He also got hurt.
“I think both of us were pretty excited. Especially Jahlil,” Stauskas noted. “He had been going through a lot for the last two years, and he had kind of asked to be traded. So I know for him he was really excited to get a new opportunity. And for myself, I kind of hit a roadblock this year. For the last month, I was dealing with injury and I kind of fell out of the rotation. So for myself I felt like it was a good opportunity to have a new start.”
He knows he will be fighting for minutes. The Nets already have two lights-out three point shooters in Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris, both the same size and around the same age. He’s 24, Crabbe is 25 and Harris 26. He’s not worried.
“It’s always going to be competitive,” said Stauskas. “These are the best players in the world, so I think no matter where you end up you’re always going to be competing against someone for a job. That’s just the way the business goes. The sooner you can wrap your head around that, the easier it’s going to be.
“I know obviously these guys —the guards they have — are very talented. Even with D’Angelo (Russell) and Jeremy (Lin), them being out with injury, those are another two guards that are very talented. Every day you just have to compete for your job. You have to show up and work hard and hope for the best after that.”
At least he’ll have LeVert to lean on.
- NIK STAUSKAS READY FOR A RESET - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets