The Long Island Nets training camp didn’t just showcase the 16 players trying to make the final 10-man roster this week. The G League hopefuls were joined by four Brooklyn Nets: Dzanan Musa, Theo Pinson, Nicolas Claxton, and Rodions Kurucs.
It began on Tuesday, when the Brooklyn Nets assigned the four to Long Island for their team practice.
Does this mean the Nets are planning to send the four to G League this season or was it just a way to get them time on the court in a leading role? Or maybe there was some skills work? No one is saying.
Out of the group, Kurucs is the most interesting —and surprising— assignee. Despite being one of the youngest players on Brooklyn’s roster, the 21-year-old spent 67 games on big club after playing four games in the G League. He proved to be a vital piece in the playoff run. Not to mention Brooklyn has a lack of depth at the 4.
Then on Thursday, Brooklyn assigned Musa, Claxton, and Pinson to Long Island to again practice with the 16-man training camp roster. Kurucs, who tallied only two points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of play in the loss to Indiana, was not assigned.
Musa was also surprise, having now been sent down twice. He finished second in preseason scoring in summer league at 12.0, just behind Taurean Prince’s 16.8. In fact, Atkinson said of that just before the regular season, that “he has surprised. Offensively, I think he can help us… very impressed so far.”
However, so far, Musa has seen action in only one game, the loss to Indiana where he only played a minute of garbage time.
Musa and Pinson, of course, are no strangers to the G League competition and Long Island. Both players were key factors in Long Island’s success last season, leading them to the G League Finals, where the team lost game 3 and the championship to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Pinson, who also has only played a minute this season, was runner up for rookie of the year and made the All-G League team.
Despite that success, Musa explained at Media Day, that he wants to be with Brooklyn this season and not spend time in Long Island. Musa is grateful for his time in Uniondale but is looking at the parent club for his second season.
“First, the Long Island experience was just great for me to learn American basketball goes,” Musa told NetsDaily. “I think that was great for me but I hope I am no more there. I think I am ready for the opportunity in Brooklyn and I am hoping I will take advantage of it.”
For Pinson, his Eastern Conference Finals buzzer beater lifted Long Island to the G League Finals last season. At Media Day, Pinson explained he does what he is told to do and takes advantage of the opportunities presented to him.
“I do what I am told to do but at the same time, I am going to do what I can to get on the floor,” Pinson told NetsDaily. “I mean everybody wants to play so you have to wait on your opportunity and that is what helped me to where I am today. I took advantage of my opportunities that were given to me.”
Claxton, of course, was expected to spend time on the Island. The second round pick showed some skills in the preseason, playing 23 minutes in three games. That’s twice what Wilson Chandler and his possible replacement, Lance Thomas, played. He averaged 7.3 points in 8.9 minutes a game, which works out to nearly 30 points per 36 minutes. He has yet to play in the NBA.
Kenny Atkinson volunteered that based on his preseason performance, Claxton could help the Nets down the line but he remains thin and needs experience.
“I’m very, very excited about Nic. I think we all understand he’s got to get stronger and needs experience, but the raw talent, we really have something to work with there. I’m pleasantly, pleasantly surprised.”
At Media Day, Claxton said he would have no problems playing in the G League.
Claxton explained that he would be “definitely open” to spending time with the Nets G League affiliate, joining the other Nets other second rounder, Jaylen Hands.
“Yeah, I definitely would be open to it,” Claxton said. “If they want me to do that, I’ll go down there and hoop and make the best out of the situation.”
The players and fans will have a better notion of what to expect in a week when the the Long Island Nets begin their season in Fort Wayne. Will any of the four be on the roster for opening night.