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Reunion, opportunity on tap for Dzanan Musa Sunday vs. Croatia

2019 Las Vegas Summer League - Day 1 - Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

When the Nets take the court against the Croatian National Team at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dzanan Musa won’t need to introduce himself to many of the players on the other side. He knows a lot of them from European play and they know him. Although a Bosnian, Musa won three straight Croatian League championships before joining the Nets last season.

That will be one highlight for Musa, but the 20-year-old guard-forward will be looking for more. Because of injuries to his foot before the season and his shoulder during the season, Musa didn’t much burn as a 19-year-old rookie with the Nets, instead spending his time in Long Island where despite being the second youngest player in the league he dominated, averaging 19.4 points a game.

More importantly, say team officials, he accepted the assignment as part of his development. Now, he wants time on the big club.

“We love the fact that he believes he will be there and wants to be there,” assistant coach Adam Harrington told Brian Lewis. “It was a testament to Kenny [Atkinson, coach] and Sean [Marks, general manager] and the whole organization to sell it that this is player development and there will be an opportunity.”

“As coaches, you’re always excited for a guy to be super-competitive. They want to be a part of it, they want to be there, they feel like they can help, But at the same time, buying into the development, buying into that opportunity really helped him. During the season, he was excited to be down there and lead it.”

Musa remains the youngest player on the Summer League squad, younger even than Nic Claxton and Jaylen Hands, the Nets two rookies. On Friday night, in the Nets opening loss to the Mavericks, he had 12 points, four rebounds, three assists (and only one turnover). He shot 4-of-13 overall, 2-of-7 from deep.

Harrington, who’s also the Nets director of player development, thinks Musa has a shot at getting minutes with the big club.

“He’s taken a big leap,” Harrington said. “He’s one you can throw in being a young guy with his body and getting better and being able to withstand the physicality of that 2, 3 position night-in and night-out. He did a great job, and we’re excited to see him play the next couple weeks.”

The game will be shown on NBA TV. Expect a lot of interviews with Nets officials and players about the signing of Kyrie Irving. Both teams are 0-1.