So, it’s January and Nets fans’ attention is turning to when Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell will step on the court together. Okafor’s return could happen very soon and it’s more of a subjective decision. When is his conditioning up to speed and when do the Nets think he’s ready to fit into the Nets system? Russell’s return is primarily a medical decision following his November 17 knee surgery.
There was a little news Sunday about D-Lo’s situation, delivered by Kenny Atkinson (publicly( just prior to the game and by Russell (accidentally) immediately afterwards.
Atkinson wouldn’t be tied down to a timetable, according to Newsday’s Greg Logan.
“He’s progressing along with our schedule,” Atkinson said. “I’d just say he’s working his tail off. I was watching him in the gym yesterday. It’s an arduous process. He’s putting in a ton of time, he’s putting in full days. It’s been amazing to see his work ethic. He’s been great.”
Of course, things have changed since Russell went down November 11 vs. Utah. Spencer Dinwiddie has shown he can handle starting point guard and Caris LeVert is a revelation. How will the Nets adjust?
“We’ll worry about that when we get there,” Atkinson said. “That’s a good problem to have, right? It will just be more competition for minutes and spots. Way back here in the back of my mind, I know what we want to do. But we’ve got to wait until D’Angelo is back to really address that.”
Then, right after the game ended, cameras caught Russell speaking briefly with Kyrie Irving. Lip readers among Nets fans seemed to think they saw D-Lo mouth the words, “two weeks,” when speaking with Kyrie Irving postgame. Had Irving asked when he’ll back?
And here’s slo-mo evidence...
And here’s a gif that you can watch endlessly.
So, it looks like Russell won’t be on the court for his Bobble-Head Doll night on January 8, but looking beyong that, there’s always January 31 when the 76ers visit Barclays Center, no doubt a big date on Okafor’s calendar.
Patience, patience, patience.
- Nets' D’Angelo Russell working hard, on schedule to return - Greg Logan - Newsday