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Nets filling out as players sign, end quarantine, practice

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The Nets had 12 players in sweats Saturday including one fresh out of quarantine. Another is presumably finishing up and third finalized a deal that will make him the final piece ... assuming no one else tests positive for the coronavirus or opts out.

Making on the court, but not scrimmaging, was Lance Thomas, who the Nets signed when Michael Beasley tested positive and left the “bubble” for home. Thomas said he’d spent six days in quarantine ... and hasn’t played since last October when the Nets waived him. Thomas played for the Knicks last season, was their captain, in fact. But New York waived him last June to save $1 million in salary cap space they thought they’d to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t.)

Still, Thomas was optimistic about his ability to help the Nets. He spoke with Nets beat writers Saturday afternoon on the team’s daily Zoom call from Orlando.

“Staying in shape is a lifestyle for me,” the 32-year-old said. “I was always going to stay in shape regardless whether the NBA was going to resume or not.”

Initially, he said, he used the gym at the players’ union office in Midtown Manhattan. But like everything last spring, it shut down and Thomas got stuck at home.

“Finding gym time was hard because of the quarantine. Especially I live in New York City and I didn’t leave the house at all pretty much until June ... left my house maybe three or four times from March to June. I was able to find some gym time, do things in the house to stay in shape, stay ready for the opportunity.”

To make up for lost time, once restrictions were partially listed last month, he was back in the gym with his personal trainer, hoping for a call. When Beasley tested positive, the Nets called him, knowing he was familiar with the system. Now, he’s going to fill in, hit the open shot, go up against the opponent’s best offensive player and ever else Jacque Vaughn needs.

“I play the hand I’m dealt. I think that myself being a player who’s been in this league you learn how to quickly adapt to any situation,” he said, when asked about his layoff then a new chance in the league. “I’m ready for whatever opportunity comes my way, whatever JV and the coaching staff need from me, they’ll get it 110 percent. I’m ready for whatever opportunity I get.”

Vaughn was happy to have Thomas with the Nets, even if he didn’t participate in scrimmages.

“Just had an individual with one of the coaches to feel the basketball again and get some shots up,” said Vaughn, “see what it feels like to be in the gym and welcome him to the group. An added addition, great to have him, great human being and he’ll definitely help us.”

Jarrett Allen said he welcomed Thomas’ arrival, having played —and traveled to China— with him last fall. Allen noted that the team needs veteran experience, pointing out that those lost to the coronavirus and injury were older, more established players.

“Coming in all of our older guys — I hope they get better — they all came down with coronavirus, and we’re stuck with a younger team,” he said. “But now having these older guys in here being able to guide us and show us the ropes, I think that helps us tremendously.”

With Thomas in camp, next up is likely Donta Hall, the G League All-Star who was on a 10-day with Detroit when things shut down. The Nets are careful not to predict when players will join them from quarantine, but it appears that Hall is nearing the end of his six days.

Vaughn has already said the Nets need the 6’10” defense-first 5 with the 7’5” wingspan. Other than Allen, the Nets don’t have a natural 5 on the team. And the 22-year-old only played 48 minutes this season (which admittedly is more than double what Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Jeremiah Martin and Justin Anderson have played ... combined.)

Meanwhile, Anderson finally and officially signed with Brooklyn. He like Thomas is familiar with the Nets system, having been called up on a 10-day deal, then weeks later, getting traded to the Long Island Nets, where he was third team All-G League. Anderson, a 6’6” 3-and-D player with 219 NBA games on his resume’, is the 26th player to be under contract with the Nets this season.

Four days ago, Anderson told a UVA basketball blog that he had arrived in quarantine the night of July 12 meaning he too should be close to joining practices ... Perhaps even Sunday.

Vaughn didn’t provide much information on the team’s overall health, pointing out that each player is returning from a different situation. The coach has said in the past that the five players who stayed in Brooklyn seemed to have an advantage in conditioning. That’s Allen, Joe Harris, Dzanan Musa, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Garrett Temple. (Wilson Chandler also spent the pandemic in Brooklyn.)

Allen admitted that even his conditioning wasn’t where he’d like it to be but added he’s happy with both his decision-making when the ball is in his hands and his chemistry with those teammates he’s spent the season with.

The Nets return to action for a scrimmage with the Pelicans on Wednesday. It will be carried on YES starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. All the NBA scrimmages will be 40-minute affairs with four 10-minute quarters.