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Caris LeVert: Playoffs “really realistic;” Joe Harris: Nets “going in right direction”

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Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In an interview with Fred Kerber, Caris LeVert wouldn’t step back from his teammate’s playoff prediction.

“I feel like it’s really realistic,” said LeVert, echoing what Jeremy Lin said in TWO Asian nations, Taiwan and China. “Last year, we were like top seven in the East when we had all our players healthy. Just building off that momentum with the pieces we’ve added — obviously we lost a great player in Brook [Lopez] — but I feel with the pieces we’ve added we’ll be in that conversation.”

LeVert, Kerber jokingly confirmed, was “not still under the influence of surgical anesthesia,” a reference to the swingman’s multiple foot surgeries, which now seem to be a thing of the past. In fact, this is the first summer in the last four where he’s had the luxury of improving his game rather than rehabbing his foot.

“It was pretty discouraging,” LeVert admitted. “I always tried to look at the finish line and times like now where I’m healthy. I knew I wouldn’t be injured the rest of my career. I just tried to look at the positives.”

The positives keep growing. As Kerber noted, the soon-to-be 23-year-old’s name is the first one mentioned when rival GM’s call Sean Marks. The Nets aren’t interested.

One of the other positives LeVert sees is D’Angelo Russell.

“He can really pass, really score, has a really high IQ,” LeVert said. “He wants to win more than people give him credit for. I know he has a lot of people to prove wrong. I know he will prove a lot of people wrong.”

And beyond the other additions —Allen Crabbe, Demarre Carroll and Timofey Mozgov, LeVert thinks a healthy Lin could prove to be a big help. LeVert traveled with Lin for a few days in Taiwan. “He’s like Michael Jordan over there,” said LeVert, who’s detailed his trip in a video on the Nets website.

LeVert also echoed Lin’s sentiments on the team’s future.

“I honestly don’t really care what other people have to say,” he said. “We know the pieces we have, the pieces we’ve added. And we’re really excited.”

Joe Harris also spoke with the media on Thursday, talking with CBS Local Sports about both the team and his own improvement. He didn’t go as far as Lin or LeVert, but count him as an optimist.

“We’re going in right direction, ready to take next step." Because? "we've added more talent to the roster helps out a lot. We have a good balance of young and veteran guys. We just have talent across the board now. We’re a very deep team and we all fit in very well with the way Kenny wants to play."

Harris described Kenny Atkinson as an “awesome coach, the very definition of a player’s coach.”

As for his own game, Harris who was the Nets best three-point shooter wants to go from 38 percent a more elite level, maybe 43 to 45 percent, which would put him in the class of the NBA’s elite shooters. Allen Crabbe shot 44.4 percent last season, finishing second.

Like LeVert, the 6’6” swingman spoke as well about Russell, “D’Angelo is an awesome guy. He’s been around quite a bit. A lot of the younger guys with the Nets have been around quite a bit and we even spent some time together in Las Vegas when everyone was in summer league.

“Working out with him, even off the court a bit, he’s a great dude. He’s got a bad rap in the other part of his career. He’s a hard working dude, really low key. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s a really nice guy.”

The UVA grad spoke as well about last weekend’s horror in Charlottesville, describing the situation as “horrific, crazy, really sad to see all this happening.” He also said that it was good to see a number of professional athletes —and his college coach, Tony Bennett— speak out and use the events as a platform.