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Steve Nash to be cautious with Blake Griffin in debut, talks of possible starting role

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Detroit Pistons v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Blake Griffin’s Nets debut is finally here. Five weeks since his last game in Detroit and three weeks after he was signed by Broolyn, the six-time All-Star is expected to see minutes tonight.

“Very excited, very excited. I didn’t get a great night's sleep last night. That’s probably my best indication that I was excited,” Griffin told reporters following Sunday morning’s shootaround. “Played so many games and they all feel the same, but just coming here, new environment, new team and the excitement got to me a little bit, but I’ll be ready.”

Prior to Sunday’s game against the Washington Wizards, Steve Nash says he and the Nets want to be cautious in playing him under the big lights and not “overextend him.” Griffin will be on a minutes restriction but neither he nor Nash provided any details.

“We’re excited to have him back and excited to incorporate him into our team but we’ll make sure we’re cautious with not overloading him early on here,” Nash said. “It is kind of his reintroduction to playing and to our team. I’m not going to say what that is but we’ll definitely be cautious to not overextend him.”

The Nets head coach did not shut down the idea of Griffin starting for the Nets at some point. Nash simply said “anything’s possible” in that respect but his main focus is to incorporate the 32-year-old into the team “effectively and efficiently as possible.”

“Anything’s possible,” Nash said on Griffin remaining off the bench or starting. “We’ve played a lot of different guys, a lot of different starters, a lot of different rotations and matchups. It’s all possible but I think here, we just want to make sure he is physically able to adapt to playing again safely and that he can be incorporated into our team as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

Nash further explained how there’s no limitation on Griffin’s role with the team. The Nets head coach says when it comes to Griffin coming off the bench or seeing a possible starting role, that will ultimately “play out.”

“I think a lot of that is going to be played out. We’ll see how he fits, how he feels, how he looks and how he gels with our team. There is no limitation on what that can possibly be. We hope for the best but first and foremost, let’s get him going and have him feeling physically able to get it in it again and have his fitness back to where it was when he was playing.

“Then, we will see how he fits with the team and the end goal in that process. He can certainly be a starter or come off the bench but I think that is the case for anyone on our team outside of the Big Three. Anything is possible.”

When asked about his Blake’s idealized role, Nash once again did his best Kevin Garnett impression. “Anything is possible,” said Nash to the idea of Blake manning either frontcourt spots, though he indicated that center is likely the better spot.

“I think anything is possible. I think he’s probably best as a center but we’ll see,” Nash said. “That doesn’t mean he’s a smart or versatile enough player to play different positions. It comes down to matchups. It comes down to how well he is shooting the ball. He is capable to shoot and there are possibilities for him to play both spots.”

When Griffin signed, it raised many an eyebrow from pundits and fans alike. Brooklyn, a team that had struggled defensively for the great part of the season, chose to bring in a player who isn’t exactly known for his ability to defend. Nash, aware of the constraints and learning period of Brooklyn’s switching scheme, preached patience in the long(-ish) road ahead.

“It’s really hard to work at that type of stuff,” said Steve Nash of Blake’s defense. “Defensively, it’s something he’s gotta add to our team, and hopefully through his experience (and) rebounding, he can have an impact down there. But we’ve gotta give him time to get his legs back under him and to understand how we play and what we’re doing...

“Everyone’s gotta be able to give something defensively.”