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Jahlil Okafor still looking for those minutes, that role

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Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jahlil Okafor has been talking to Kenny Atkinson lately. After he didn’t play vs. the Hornets on Thursday, he spoke with his coach on Friday after practice.

Bryan Fonseca may have caught a bit of it when he sprayed HSS Training Center, tweeting it out after practice.

Fred Kerber and Greg Logan talked to Okafor about the subject of their talk.

“Just trying to figure out what was going on,” Okafor said. “He was letting me know that I didn’t do anything wrong and he was happy with the way I’ve been progressing, and he knows I’m trying my best to fit in with the team. But he was going to try new experiments, and he let me know just to keep working and keep my spirits high and know that my opportunity will come again.”

Atkinson confirmed that the two spoke about the immediate future.

“We’re looking at all different rotations,” he said. “We had a stretch where he was in there. I think he’s played decently when he’s been in there. Unfortunately, he’s part of the group that we haven’t been playing well when he’s in, but that’s circumstances.”

And the issue is nothing personal.

“His attitude has been great, his spirit has been great, his understanding of what we’re trying to do has been really good. He’s just got to hang in there and keep fighting for minutes.”

Okafor has shone flashes on offense, with his post game and even more so with his face-up game, but on defense, it’s a different story. The Nets plus/minus numbers dive when he steps on the court.

The 6’11” power forward thinks it will get better, thinks he can make it work.

“I think it can. It’s just trying to figure out how I can make it fit in without messing up the flow,” said Okafor, who of course faced a similar issue in Philly before the Nets traded for him. “There was a lot I was thinking about when I first got here. But it definitely can work. It’s just reps and games, something that it will be easier for me and easier for my teammates.”

And still wants to stay in Brooklyn, expects to be.

“It’s definitely a challenge coming to a team midseason. … It’s definitely going to be easier next year starting with the team in training camp,” he said.

“I’m extremely happy to be here. They’ve been nothing but generous to me. We’re staying together and we expect to win. It’s not like we’re going into games thinking we’re going to lose. That was kind of different when I was in Philly my rookie season. We expect to win here. We just haven’t as much as we’d like.”

And so, we will wait to see what the experiment brings. But is 22 games enough when the 22 games he’s already played for the Nets have not?