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Henry Ellenson: With the Nets, ‘I’m not going to be an outkast’

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Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Nets have three players taken in the Draft’s top 20 three years ago. Two of them signed extensions this summer: Caris LeVert taken at No. 20, was rewarded with a three-year, $52 million extension back in August. Taurean Prince, taken eight spots higher, wound up with a two-year, $29 million contract signed on Monday, the last day extensions could be signed.

Meanwhile, Henry Ellenson, who was taken at No. 18 in 2016, was working out at HSS as a two-way player. Last year, two teams —the Pistons and Knicks— gave up on him. Detroit released him at the trade deadline and in a salary cap saving move, New York renounced his rights on the day before free agency.

Ellenson, a 6’11” stretch 4, says he’s not unhappy. As he told The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer in a feature about how he wound up with the Nets ... and how happy he is he did.

The biggest attraction, the 22-year-old said, was the Nets record of remaking players careers, whether they were lottery pick, like D’Angelo Russell or players other teams had taken in the second round, then dumped, like Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie. Even watching Theo Pinson go from being undrafted to getting an NBA contract after becoming a 20-point-a-game scorer on Long Island got his attention.

“For me that was something,” Ellenson said of why he joined the Nets. “Being a two-way is different for me, just coming from my situations before. I wanted to be in a scenario where it was first class, and that’s what it seems like with Brooklyn. That was my decision going into it. Knowing I’m a two-way, but knowing they’re going to work with me. I’m not going to be an outcast.”

Ellenson was a one-and-done at Marquette and there was high hopes because of his 3-point shooting, good handle an near-elite passing skills for a near near seven-feet tall. As Ryan Ruocco pointed out Friday night and Schiffer noted...

Ellenson, much like Dinwiddie, is more disturbed about the team that drafted him —in both cases, the Pistons— than the second team to give him a chance, the Knicks were he got minutes soon after they signed him, then relegated him to the bench before putting him back in the lineup late.

“It was only a couple of games, but I thought I got a chance to show how I improved year to year,” Ellenson said of his time at the Garden.

After signing as two-way in July, Ellenson was among the Nets players who worked out together in Los Angeles as well as Brooklyn. He notes as well that he and LeVert trained together back in 2016 before the Draft. Count LeVert among his believers.

“He’s going to play some minutes,” LeVert told Schiffer. “He’s a really talented player. Being a one-and-done type of player, you have to be really talented. He didn’t get much of a chance in Detroit.”

As for Ellenson, his goal is simple.

“I know I’m just going to play,” he said. “That’s something I haven’t been able to say going into the season for a while.”