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Nic Claxton’s health concerns not an issue: ‘I think that’s behind him’

Charlotte Hornets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Prior to Friday night’s game against the Timberwolves, Steve Nash said he doesn’t see Nic Claxton’s health as something to monitor moving forward. Claxton, who is available for the first time since late October, will only be judged on “his fitness and performances.”

“No. I think that’s behind him,” said Steve Nash on Claxton’s health posing any future monitoring. “It’s a matter of adaptation to the demands and his fitness and performances will be judged going forward. We believe in Nic and we’re happy that he’s back. It’s just a matter of him getting it going again.”

The Nets have never discussed the nature of Claxton’s illness other than to call it “non-COVID.”

When asked if Claxton will see minutes Friday night against Minnesota, the Nets head coach said he hopes his young big man can get some run on the hardwood, but didn’t guarantee minutes. Nash added that he doesn’t want to force minutes on Claxton.

“I’d like him to get an opportunity tonight. I don’t want to guarantee anything, but there’s a chance he plays a little bit tonight and tomorrow,” Nash said. “We’ll see how the opportunity presents itself. I think it would be positive if he can get some minutes and continue his return to play.”

“Our rotations are pretty solid right now. It’s not like he’s coming back to play 25 minutes a night, so we want to give him opportunities to grow, improve his fitness, and adapt back to the game,” said Nash on Claxton’s minute restrictions. “And then worry about his performances as we go here. Right away, we want to give him a chance to get back in the lineup and give him some minutes.”

Charlotte Hornets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Claxton’s start-and-stop experience with injuries has been a concern during his short NBA career. When Nash was asked whether that is affecting his conditioning on the court, the Nets head coach wouldn’t put a pin on solely that.

“There’s no way it can help but I don’t know. I couldn’t answer that. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s the issue or not but he’s been working hard,” Nash said. “He worked hard preseason. He’s worked hard here recently to get back, so that’s all you can ask. We’re going to keep pushing him to be the best he can be.

“We know he has the ability. He adds a unique profile to our team, so his development is important but also his ability adds something to our roster. To see him get back there to a place he’s available, then a place where he’s making an impact and then continue to develop and grow is positive for our group.”

Claxton returns to play with only four games this season under his belt, posting averages of 6.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.8 assists in 19.0 minutes per game.