Are the Nets finally getting healthy? After one and a half months in one case and two and a half in the other, Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert are headed back to the court. The two practiced Tuesday with the Long Island Nets and afterwards, Kenny Atkinson said Crabbe will be available for Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, while LeVert’s return is to be determined ... but close.
With five players out vs. the Bucks on Monday, the Nets and their fan base could use a boost and Atkinson supplied it. Whether Crabbe will actually play Wednesday vs. Denver and when LeVert will suit up remain uncertain, but they’re very very close.
On what he wants to see from the two – LeVert in particular, given his (lack of) timetable – Atkinson says a gradual build back up to where they were.
“First thing is physical capability,” said the third year head coach. “I think from a coaching standpoint we have to understand that these guys have been out and it’s not going to be perfect. There will be some little pebbles in the road, some bumps, but I think the most important thing is getting the green light from the performance team and then going from there.”
Atkinson later added there will be no restrictions just “minute suggestions” on Crabbe.
“We do it before the game, kind of slot the minutes and then we go of feel, the game, match-ups, so it changes a lot,” he said.
How soon will LeVert return to the form he demonstrated early in the season... which at the time many believed to be “All-Star” level production?
“I don’t know, that’s a big ask,” offered Atkinson. “My feeling is let’s just build him up from a physical standpoint. From a basketball technical standpoint, I think it’s going to take some time honestly until he catches his rhythm. I don’t know how long it’s going to be but we’ll see.
“The guy was playing like an All-Star to me, from my perspective, before he went out. Of course, that’s our goal, to get him back to that level. We’ll see how long that takes, but with Caris, I wouldn’t bet against him, watching him already worked to get back.”
LeVert certainly wants back. He spoke for the first time since he suffered a dislocated right foot on November 12 in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which Brooklyn lost.
“They’ve been playing great basketball,” he said of his teammates. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”
LeVert later added that he began walking two weeks after the injury, which was key in maintaining a level of optimism while rehabbing, along with meditation.
And being the competitor he is, the 24-year-old hopes to play as soon as possible.
In his first 12 games where he did look like an All-Star, and perhaps a front-runner for Most Improved Player, LeVert averaged 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals, while shooting 49% from the floor, 35% from three and 74% on free throws.
Is it possible Nets fans might have to wait till next season to see that version of LeVert? No one is dismissing the possibility but everyone will point to LeVert’s heart when discussing his chances of making a difference.
Crabbe, who has been out since December 12, says his return has been a long time coming, and he’s also anxious to pick up where he left off. Crabbe is averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 34% from the floor and 39% from three. Crabbe has logged 28 game appearances this season, 15 of them starts.
The Nets leaves two Nets still out: Jared Dudley (hamstring) and Spencer Dinwiddie (hand), and Dzanan Musa (shoulder separation) still rehabbing with Long Island. He is no longer on minutes restrictions. He played 30 minutes Monday, 24 in a G League contest in the a.m. and another six in the NBA in the p.m.
Joe Harris (hip), who was out Monday, is expected to return Wednesday.