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Atkinson talks injuries and former 76ers

NBA: Utah Jazz at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell is going to play tonight, that’s the good news.

Caris LeVert (sore left groin) will not, and according to Kenny Atkinson, while they’re hopeful for LeVert to play Friday against the Lakers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could be out a bit longer with his nagging right groin strain.

His full injury report from pre-game.

“D’Angelo’s gonna play tonight, which is good news,” said Atkinson. “Obviously not 48 minutes – felt good after the game, last night he felt good, this morning, so he’s progressing nicely. Caris is still day-to-day, out tonight unfortunately. Hopeful for next game. Rondae’s still a couple more games.”

More on D’Angelo, who has been battling rust since returning close to two weeks ago.

“I think it’s to be expected,” said Atkinson. “As long as he’s out, it’s going to take time, combined with, he’s not a 32-year-old player, he’s a 22-year-old player. He’s still learning, learning the league, learning the game. I think it’s a natural progression – I think he tried some things last time, which I understand – sometimes it doesn’t look perfect, but we all have to understand these things take time.”

And of course, Atkinson shared some thoughts on Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas, both of whom the Nets acquired close to two months ago (wow, already!?) from the same Philadelphia 76ers they’ll line-up against tonight (James Webb III is also a former 76er).

“First of all, love being around them,” Atkinson said of Stauskas and Okafor. “Excellent guys. They both really started to earn their minutes, they’re fitting our system, grasping what we’re trying to do. Haven’t had big minutes, but lately they’ve earned more minutes and with both of them, we’re happy with their progress.

“I think we’re still in the beginning stages and getting to know them better. It takes time to get to know a player and get them to understand what we’re doing. I do think we have to have a bit of long-term thinking and a sense that it takes time to get to know these guys. It’s just that simple.”

On Okafor specifically, Atkinson praised his work ethic, along with his commitment of getting into game shape, which is starting to pay off, little by little.

“With his work ethic I thought he did a phenomenal job getting into game shape and grasping what we’re doing,” said Atkinson. “You get 8-to-10 minutes, it’s tough for him to get a rhythm, it’s tough for us to get a feel of where he is and where he’s going, so I think, like I said before the game last night, playing three centers is difficult.

“Nobody’s happy because they’re just getting slices of minutes. With Jah we’ll get a better feel of how he could help us and where he could get better.”