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NETS TRAINING CAMP DAY 3: Injuries, Kenneth Faried’s situation, D’Angelo Russell

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Bryan Fonseca was at Nets practice Thursday. The first camp injuries put two players on the bench but they weren’t a big deal. What was a big deal was DLo’s development

NetsDaily/Bryan Fonseca

Training camp injuries?

“Shabazz tweaked his hamstring yesterday. I’m not going to give you a timeframe. Alan Williams turned his ankle. So it’s normal training camp bumps and bruises.”

Is Williams’s injury a sprained ankle?

“It’s a sprain. He came down on somebody’s ankle.”

Is Dzanan Musa participating yet?

“Not yet. He’s doing individual stuff but not participating in practices.”

How’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson doing?

“Yeah, he’s doing more and more each day. We had a light session today after two pretty high-intense, tough days. We did a lot of shooting, a lot of walking, a lot of mental training.”

Kenneth Faried says weed won’t affect his ability to play, or is there a penalty?

“I don’t want to comment on that. I had my interaction with Kenneth, and we talked about it. I just kind of want to leave it at that. He made a statement, but that’s my stance.”

Is there still an expectation that Faried will play significantly?

“I think that’s still open. We’ve got a lot of big guys right now. I think it’s too early to say who’s going to be in the rotation and who’s not out of all those big guys. We can’t play them all. I’ve been happy with what I’ve seen on the court so far.”

You have more guys with a track record who won’t play this season …

“We play a lot of guys, but we can’t play 15. That will play out through the competition in training camp and exhibition season. When we have to make that decision on who we’re playing, we’re obviously going to have to talk to guys and explain their roles. I do think if you’re honest and you’re clear about the role they have, whether it’s playing or not playing, the type of guys we bring on, I don’t anticipate any problems with that.”

How important is the mental aspect of the game?

“Practices like this are important today. You’ve expended a lot of energy and don’t have a lot in the tank, and we challenge them mentally. Our offensive playbook today was a big emphasis. It’s important, especially in crunch time that we know what call we’re making, we know the correct spacing. So a day like today checks off a box in terms of how we’re executing.”

Do you agree with players saying Nets can be a surprise team?

“I like that they’re talking about being a surprise. I think that’s the first [step]…like, ‘Hey we can surprise people.’ I like the attitude. I think that’s fantastic. In my mind, I obviously want to see more evidence when we start playing exhibition games and the beginning of the season. We have to obviously prove it on the floor, but I’m happy that’s kind of the vibe coming from the players that they feel they can surprise.”

Have you seen D’Angelo grasp the idea of making teammates better as opposed to just scoring?

“Yeah, I think he’s a smart player, so he understands that. Like I’ve always said since Day 1, he’s got great vision of the floor. I think that’s really understanding what the defense is giving you. Sometimes, you have to go out and get 25 as a point guard. It’s the Steve Nash-Chris Paul model. It depends how the defense is playing you. There’s other nights you might get four points and 12 assists. I think understanding that and having veterans guys like that around who can send that message and having a coaching staff that’s on-board with that message, I think we’ve seen positive signs the first couple of days as far as moving that ball around.

Is a player being a vocal leader something you’d rather step back and let happen organically?

”If I see a guy needs a push in that direction, especially a vet, we need you to do this to help the group, I think we do give a push. On the other hand, especially young players, it comes organically. I kind of reference Caris. I saw it last year as he got more responsibilities just a natural ability as a leader. That happens a lot with young guys. Rondae, you see that. He’s just more confident correcting a younger player than him or putting guys in the right spots. I think it’s both.”

With D’Lo is it fair to say the two biggest points of emphasis were defense and turnovers?

”Yeah, that’s fair.”

Is the work that he put in on his body is that something that will help on the defensive end?

”Definitely. It’s a big part. Your ability to shed screens or maneuver around a screen or guard one on one or resist when a guy does drag you, grabbing a rebound obviously, all those things the physical aspect plays a big part in that.”

In terms of turnovers and decision making is that something you can see now?

”We’re emphasizing in practice. It’s funny, the first day of practice we scrimmaged a ton, yeah, I’d say a ton, and D’Angelo had one turnover in the whole scrimmage and of course I stopped the practice and told him about it. And then the next day I came back and I said, ‘you know what? You did a hell of a job handling the ball. And I pointed out the only turnover you made.’ His response was, ‘keep coaching me.’ That’s the kind of rapport we have. I felt a little guilty. Jeez, he had the ball in his hands all practice and had one turnover and I pointed it out. So we’re definitely going to keep coaching him. I do think the strength thing is going to help him on the offensive end too. Because the strength and athleticism and all that, getting by people a little easier, not getting pushed off your line when you’re driving. Sometimes with young players, the physicality of the game will cause them to turn the ball over.”

Most coaches try to stay off the topic of contracts and money. Did you get sense that contract on D’Lo mind?

”It’s not something I discuss with players. I do emphasize team success and our improvement as a team is going to help everybody. That’s me included. Help our professional future. That’s as far as those conversations go. I didn’t see any change in demeanor, any change in the person. And I saw an elite work ethic. Because I was here every day and I saw it. He made a commitment to be here of his own volition. Every time I walked in the weight room, he was in there. It gives me confidence as a coach and I think as a player, he knows he put in the work this offseason.”