The good news: DeAndre Jordan will not require surgery for his dislocated middle finger.
The bad news: He’ll be re-evaluated in a week after the Nets play games against Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dwight Howard and maybe Joel Embiid.
The Nets announced the news at practice Friday, two days after he injured his finger in the first half of Wednesday’s game vs. the 76ers. There’s no guarantee that Jordan will return in a week’s time, but if he had needed surgery, the team was looking at four to six weeks without their back-up center.
The loss will put pressure on the Nets two young bigs, their 21-year-old starter Jarrett Allen and 20-year-old rookie Nicolas Claxton who was playing for Long Island on Wednesday night.
In comments after the 76ers game, Kenny Atkinson said he was happy with Allen’s play against Philly and would have no compunctions about giving Claxton minutes. Beyond those two, expect the Nets to use veteran Wilson Chandler or second year player Rodions Kurucs in small ball scenarios.
“That’s the Jarrett Allen we need,” Atkinson said, post-game alluding to Allen’s 17-point, 10-rebound performance. “That’s huge for us. I think that was a big reason we were in the game and able to compete with them. He kind of got back to his high-energy Jarrett Allen, that stretch where he was playing great, protecting the rim and then rolling and finishing. That was a huge positive.”
With Jordan out, Allen will have to play more minutes, but he said that shouldn’t be an issue.
“I don’t think so,” Allen said. “Nothing against DJ, but I’m young. I have more energy than him. I think I can be able to play for as long as they need me.”
As for Claxton, who’s played only 120 minutes in 10 games this season, Atkinson expressed confidence in his ability to step up.
“I have no qualms about playing Nic Claxton. I think he’ll be an excellent player,” Atkinson said. “If — it’s a big if — if DeAndre misses any time, I have no hesitation playing him.”
Claxton’s G League coach, Shaun Fein, offered high praise for Claxton on Wednesday night, something virtually every Nets coach and executive has echoed.
“He is super talented,” Fein said. “I think on both ends of the floor. His defensive size is very good, his length, and his activity on the defensive side helps us.”
“Offensively, he is improving on his outside shooting a little bit. He has a great touch around the rim. Once he gets a little stronger, gets a little more mature, and grows into his body, I see him being a really really good NBA player.”
Meanwhile, the Nets announced that Joe Harris, who’s had a tough January, will be out with back problems.