BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When Kenny Atkinson was asked about Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas playing Tuesday night against the Wizards, the Nets head coach was non-committal.
“Never say never,” said Atkinson.
He went on to explain how he would like the two new players to understand the plays and defense before throwing them out there.
“It’s not etched in stone, but I do think there’s a plan in place. I do think we want to put them in a good position to succeed and help our team, and make sure when I call a play – they know what the heck we’re doing. When we call a defensive adjustment, they know what we’re doing.
“I just think there’s a natural process of them building and getting to know what we’re doing. It’s going to take a little bit.”
He explained how Brooklyn’s system isn’t easy to learn right away.
"This isn't CYO where you show up at four o'clock and you haven't met your teammates and just throw them out there.
“You have a ton of plays, a defensive system so we want to put both those guys in a position to succeed, in a position to help the team, so I can't give you the exact date, I just know we're going to keep working with them and get them integrated as soon as possible.
“We have another practice date coming up, so that'll be good. I wish we had four days where we could do a mini-training camp but that's just not the case."
It’s not about the players
"Anytime you incorporate new players it takes time. It takes time to learn the system on both sides of the ball, to get familiar with your teammates. Just integrating them into the squad takes a little bit. We're in the process, we did a practice yesterday, got one under our belt, so that was good."
Asked whether he was going to suit up at his introductory press conference Monday, Okafor was antsy.
“I’m definitely ready [to play] and I’m tired of sitting.”
The way the Nets operate - don’t expect it. But, as Kenny said: Never say never. It’s a long game and the Nets are short on bigs.