For most players who get signed to a new team during a regular season, the transition can be hard. Not so for Andre Roberson. He’s looking at a lot of familiar faces.
Roberson, who signed with Brooklyn Tuesday, credits the familiarity with not only players but the front office for a smooth transition thus far.
“It’s pretty cool honestly. From the front office to players, we all have ties in some way shape, or form to each other, which is pretty cool,” Roberson said on the long list of Nets connections. “It just goes to show the genealogy between three teams is pretty dope. It just shows you what kind of people and character you are walking into. I think it’s dope and kind of gives me a head start because I know what to expect. So far so great so I can’t complain.”
Other than obvious connection —Spencer Dinwiddie is his college teammate and future brother-in-law — the two biggest connections for Roberson are James Harden and Kevin Durant, who he played with during his early years with the Thunder. He was also teammates with Nets assistant coach, Royal Ivey, in OKC. And yes, he had spoken with Dinwiddie about joining the Nets.
“We had a little communication during free agency but kind of outside of that, it kind of just happened,” Roberson said. “I kind of bring my talents to New York, I guess. You know, Spencer’s been talking about it for a couple years now, but finally we made it happen.”
The San Antonio product said his initial thought process after joining the Nets was that “it’s going to be a fun year,” knowing he is reuniting with Harden and Durant. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie is in L.A. trying to get back to play after he torn his ACL. Robertson said that being with Brooklyn also adds a bit of pressure. He knows he’ll have to perform but he also noted how he has already been impressed with the Nets chemistry.
“Obviously playing with two of the three, my initial thought process was that it is going to be a fun year,” Roberson said. “For me, my job isn’t easier this year knowing that three of the best guys in the league are on the same team I have to help guard. That’ll be pretty fun but at the same time, it is a well-rounded team. We gell pretty easily and obviously, they haven’t had many games and figuring out rotations and chemistry. The way the team is unified is pretty impressive with the short amount of time.”
When asked what he can bring to this Nets team, his defense is the clear spotlight. Roberson says on top of his defensive presence along the perimeter, he will bring energy and communication.
“What I can bring to the team is my energy, be ready to play every night, and try to motivate guys,” Roberson said. “Try to communicate because that’s a big part of defense. Before you can figure out schemes, positioning, and stuff like that - communication, energy, and the things you can control. That’s is what I am looking forward to bringing to this team.”
Roberson has built his resume around his defensive play —being selected for the NBA All-Defensive Team in 2017, something no Net has done since Jason Kidd. Can he fit offensively, joining the firepower of Brooklyn? He believes he can serve as a 4 or even a 5 while noting how the Nets “Big Three” pulls so much gravity that spacing and finding the open spot shouldn’t be difficult. Not to mention with all that offense, the Nets can easily afford going down on that end of the court.
“Honestly, me going 1-through-5 puts me in that position as well but at the same time, I kind of incorporated that when we played against Golden State,” he said referring to the epic 2016 Western Conference Finals. “I would’ve been a 4-man, 5-man, pick-and-roll, and be the transition guy to the other side if not roll for the clean dunk if they are going to be occupying everyone on the wings, which kind of makes everyone’s job easier like having three guys on the same team makes it pretty easy,
“One of those guys is going to draw two and someone is going to be open so just finding an open shot. Spacing is going to be pretty easy so I think it is more so finding the timing, chemistry, and comradery with the guys. That is going to be the biggest challenge for us. I think everyone here knows how to play basketball so it should be easy.”
Finding a role with the Nets will be based on his conditioning, at least initially. It’s no secret Steve Nash and the Nets in general take a cautious approach to the players who join the team mid-season, wanting them to get in basketball shape before the see consistent minutes. Roberson noted how he has got good runs during practice and shootarounds.
“I feel pretty great honestly,” Roberson said on conditioning. “Obviously, nothing compares to the in-game conditioning so you almost got to throw yourself into the wolves in a sense. It’s hard to even get a 5-on-5 in and try to stay safe at the same time. I was bouncing back and forth between gyms in Oklahoma City I worked out in.
“Going back home and seeing my family as well so I was just staying ready and at the same time, get some family time in before I actually had it. It was pretty good and obviously, I am here now so I’ll be able to get some good run-in with the guys in a 3-on-3 and a 4-on-4 in practice so it’ll be pretty fun.”
The larger issue for many is how has the 29-year-old wing recovered a devastating knee injury in June 2018 which led to a number of setbacks during the recovery process. The injury put Roberson off the NBA hardwood for 30 months before he made his return in the “bubble” with the Thunder last season.
Roberson spoke extensively about his knee injury, noting the several stages of recovery. He is looking forward to putting that behind him and get more games under his belt moving forward.
“Last year I played in the bubble and those were my first games of the season but I ruptured my patella tendon three years ago in 2018 and kind of been rehabbing my whole way. I just had a couple of setbacks from the initial surgery. The second one was an avulsion fracture on my patella bone with my tendon not being healthy enough to supply blood to the bone to stay strong,” Roberson said.
“Once I got over those two things and the last piece was mostly scar tissue and irritation so going in there and cleaning that out. When we were trying to figure out what it was, it was a big mystery until the doctors went in and said it was a piece of scar tissue. It sucked but thank goodness I’m all healthy and playing now. Looking forward to continuing on from that and get more games in under my belt.”
Prior to signing with the Nets, Roberson said what kept him motivated while he waited for his phone to ring was simply his dreams. He knew if his time was not going to come this season, he was confident he would’ve got the call next season.
“Guys will always go back and forth but you always have to stay ready. That is one thing my last team taught me is to just be professional always” Roberson said of the Thunder. “Always stay ready and I wasn’t ready to give up on my dreams so I knew at some point a door or opportunity would open whether it was going to be this season or next season. I was just going to stay in shape the best I can and with all the protocols and stuff, that is what I did.”
Roberson told reporters that he did gather interest from other teams prior to signing with Brooklyn. “I had some traction with other teams but nothing really stuck until the Nets called,” Roberson said.
According to reports, the Nets discussed signing Roberson before going with Iman Shumpert, another defensive oriented wing. Then, after trying out Norvel Pelle, they cut him and called Roberson. Both he and Shumpert are on non-guaranteed deals, but Roberson, unlike Shumpert is healthy. Roberson played four minutes of garbage time against the Lakers.
Roberson credited the Nets front office with balancing personal safety and getting situated in Brooklyn.
“It’s been pretty hectic but thank goodness that this is a great organization. They helped make this transition pretty easy and get right in to meet everybody while staying safe and going by the NBA’s guidelines,” Roberson said. “It’s my first time joining a team so I didn’t know what to expect. They made it pretty easy for me.”
Meanwhile, Dinwiddie posted another update on his rehab, with the caption, “The foundation will be bulletproof.”
Kevin Durant out against Clippers, says Steve Nash
Steve Nash has ruled Kevin Durant out for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite not playing tomorrow, KD is progressing, Nash said, while noting how his injury is taking more time than the performance staff initially thought.
“I don’t have a timeline but he is out for tomorrow,” Nash said. “He is still trying to regain that strength and growth in his rehabilitation. Like I keep saying, I don’t think it’s a long-term thing but there are elements of taking a few more days than we thought or just being cautious. Right now, both are necessary. I don’t think he is ready. I think he needs more time but we are definitely going to be cautious. He’ll be out tomorrow.”
Durant was expected to conduct some physical work on the practice court Saturday, according to Nash. The Nets head coach labeled the work as “very light” but will balance the work with his rehabilitation of strengthening his hamstring.
“I think he will do something on the floor today but it will be very light as a part of continuing to progress. He’ll still be doing strengthening and still trying to limit the inflammation while he is doing that strengthening and then a little bit of court work today to see where he is at.”
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