He may not start and he certainly won’t play big minutes, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson —and his coach— think he’ll be on the court Wednesday in Detroit for the Nets opening game.
RHJ started practicing fully just this week after straining his adductor muscle more than two months ago during warm-ups for a charity game in Shenzhen, China, sponsored by former teammate Jeremy Lin. He missed the entire preseason and lost valuable time during training camp as well.
“Whenever they give a green light, we’re good,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “Because I play so energetic and all over the place, it’s definitely good to be in control, understand how you play and get that natural feel back.”
The Nets learned (again) last season how important Hollis-Jefferson is to them both in terms of defense and chemistry. He missed 11 straight games in mid-season. Brooklyn lost 10 of them.
Kenny Atkinson said the 23-year-old is “trending in the right direction” as the Nets re-integrate him back into the system.
“We are going to be smart about bringing him back,” Atkinson said Sunday. “I’ll definitely listen to the medical team and the performance team. We can’t play him 40 minutes that first night, obviously.”
Since he’s been out, the Nets have filled the gap in a number of ways, using DeMarre Carroll at the 4 and giving Jared Dudley, Kenneth Faried and Treveon Graham minutes as well. Rookie Rodions Kurucs has floated in and out of the two forward spots and looked good.
The 6’10” Kurucs has a 7’2” wingspan and an 8’11” standing reach —as well as NBA level athleticism. What he doesn’t have is NBA experience. Still, he feels he can do the job. Cut out of F.C. Barcelona’s rotation last season, the Latvian says he’s feeding off the energy of his teammates.
“Actually, the guys and coaches and all the people here give me this energy,” the 20-year-old said. “I feel way different than I felt in Barcelona. I’m just enjoying every day here with this club . . . I just adapted so fast. It’s my game. I know how they play here. I think that was the easiest part.”
Hollis-Jefferson said that same enthusiasm is driving him in his return.
“I feel like it’s a competitive group,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “Every practice, every time we compete, it’s extremely energetic. That’s what it’s about at the end of the day. We’re making each other better. We’re getting after it. Ultimately it will show on the court at the end of the day.”
Carroll (ankle), Allen Crabbe (ankle) and Shabazz Napier (hamstring) did not practice. Their status for Wednesday is yet to be determined, Atkinson said.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson likely to return for Wednesday’s opener in Detroit - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Injured Nets forward ‘trending in the right direction’ for opener - Greg Joyce - New York Post