While the NBA continues to battle COVID-19, the Nets have taken a big hit. A hit that is filled with the uncertain consequences. Trying to work through it with what they have will be a challenge.
Brooklyn enters Thursday’s night’s game against Philadelphia with nine bodies — one of whom is Langston Galloway, who signed a 10-day hardship exception earlier Thursday morning. Steve Nash said the 30-year-old guard is “going in blind” Tuesday night and has only had a short introduction with his head coach and teammates.
“We’ll see. It’s tricky. Without shootaround because of COVID, we’re going to meet right before the game and go over the game plan. We had a very quick introduction and let’s see if we get a chance to use him, see what type of shape he’s in and how he fits with the group,” said Nash on using Galloway. “He really is going in blind.”
It’s the way of the Nets world and the NBA right now.
Due to the recent COVID-19 breakout spreading rapidly throughout the league, teams haven't even been able to hold shootarounds or plan for games . The Nets head coach said the coaches will meet with players “right before the game” to discuss game plans and strategies for their opponents.
“Right before the game, we’ll meet and watch some film or walk through quickly. We are definitely airing on the side of having less and little time for concentrated group settings,” Nash said. “It’s not the end of the world but it’s not the normal routine.”
When the Nets head coach was asked whether the team plans on adding more players under the hardship exception, Nash explained that’s going to be dictated by the number of available bodies. That said, the Nets brass will no doubt have conversations. One tricky part of the process: players get tested in the morning and don’t get the results until the late afternoon on game days.
“It’s about how many players we have. How many able bodies are we able to roll out there, so those are discussions that will be ongoing,” Nash said. “A lot of it is the front office question. We’ll definitely discuss it and try to figure this period out as we go through this.”
Moreover, there is only one superstar in Brooklyn’s depleted arsenal. Kevin Durant, who has carried a heavy offensive burden throughout the season, is coming off a 48-minute performance against the Raptors Tuesday night. The Nets head coach explained how the team doesn’t want to continue relying on KD, but that’s become the reality.
“It’s a really important topic. I don’t know if we can continue to lean on him the way we have,” said Nash on Durant’s load during this span. “It doesn’t feel right and I know he’s been enjoying it. I know he’s enjoying playing at the rate he’s playing at and trying to bring his teammates along with him and all the responsibility he’s accepted and crushed.
“It’s been incredible but at the same time, we know that’s not safe or sustainable to continue to lean on him like that. There’s going to be a lot of consideration and we’ll have to figure out a way to give him breaks.”
The Nets did not add any more players to the league’s health and safety protocols. Nash sees that as a double-edged sword, explaining that the burden of playing shorthanded can wear off on the active players. The issue isn’t limited to the nine players on the roster. It’s also wearing on the seven players on health and safety protocols — James Harden, Jevon Carter, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, James Johnson, Paul Millsap and Bruce Brown. Getting back on the court without playing for a minimum of 10 days presents a different set of circumstances to be dealt with.
“It’s important. The question is we’re above the threshold, which is positive but at the same time, we’re barely above the threshold so what toll does that take on our players,” Nash said. “Is it better to be over the threshold and to not be playing until you have a healthy roster? Is it better to have enough to play, but to be shorthanded and the burden and the toll it takes on these guys, knowing you’re going to have guys coming back who haven’t been able to practice or play basketball? It’s definitely tricky to navigate.”
Although not playing for a minimum of 10 days impacts a player's conditioning and performance, the Nets head coach doesn’t know if who/any of the seven players on health and safety protocols are working out. It’s been a waiting game filled with the unknown.
“I don’t believe they can go into any facility in New York but they can work out at home if they don’t have symptoms. I don’t know what type of equipment or space they have in their home or apartments,” the Nets head coach said. “As this period drags on, we’ll have to obviously start to get them back to moving and getting themselves prepared to return to play.”