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Steve Nash on Alize Johnson: ‘We think he’s a player that can help us’

Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Steve Nash provided high praise for Alize Johnson prior to Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans. The Nets head coach said he feels comfortable with what the team has in the 10-day player and believes Johnson, who continues to turn heads, is a player that can help them.

“I think we feel pretty comfortable with what we have with Alize. He’s been outstanding, works hard, plays with outstanding energy, a great teammate so he’s been really productive in the minutes he has gotten,” Nash said. “We feel confident in him as a player. He’s a great kid. We love having him in out clubhouse. We love when he gets a chance to play and we think he’s a player that can help us.”

It was a seeming signal that Johnson, the 23-year-old Swiss Army Knife who was a top G League player, will be retained after his second 10-day runs out on Sunday. The Nets currently have 17 players under contract, 14 on standard NBA deals, two on two-ways and Johnson. The NBA buyout deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.

Nash was not the only member of the Nets that delivered praise in the past 24 hours. Following Monday’s win against the Knicks, Joe Harris stated that Johnson’s aggressiveness has caught his eye since he walked in the door. Johnson contributed 12 points along with seven rebounds, one assist and much needed energy off the bench to help lift Brooklyn to the win.

“From the moment he got here, that’s how he’s been. Even in practice sessions, he doesn’t back down from anybody. He’s aggressive on both ends of the court,” Harris said. “I’m glad he got an opportunity tonight.”

The 6’7” forward is averaging 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 13.8 minutes per game. Johnson has reached double-figures in two out of four games as a Net; highlighted by his eye-popping debut of 23 points and 15 rebounds against the Jazz on March 24.

Johnson is currently on his second consecutive 10-day contract that is set to expire Sunday. If the Nets do sign Johnson to a standard deal by April 9 - the NBA playoff eligibility deadline - he will be eligible to play in the playoffs for Brooklyn.

After the James Harden trade, the Nets wound up with three open roster spots. After trying out eight players and signing Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge following buyouts, it appears the three posts will be filled with Griffin, Aldridge and Johnson.