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For Reggie Perry, a summer of decisions await

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Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Two Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Back in training camp, the Nets were wowed by their second round pick. It seemed like everyone from Sean Marks to a variety of players — Bruce Brown, Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan — all had positive things to say about Reggie Perry. But everyone also realized with the Nets star-studded line-up, he wasn’t going to get much playing time. So the Nets decided that they would take it slow, send him to Long Island, hope he could develop.

“Obviously, he’s a big man out there with a forceful nature and, as you mentioned, he can be able to step out on the floor as well as play in the post,” said Marks at the time. “We had him much higher on our board, and to be able to have a guy like that in with us, I look forward to seeing him develop.”

Now, the Nets face a decision on what to do with their 6’9” big who they project at PF. A restricted free agent with a projected salary of $1.49 million, Perry played 210 minutes in 26 games for the Nets last season, averaging three points in eight minutes per game, most of it garbage time. But in the G League, where he spent a big part of the season, Perry averaged a more than respectable 18 and nine with a shooting line of 52/32/77.

Here’s highlights from a 25-point outing he had in February...

By late February, the Nets had a sense of what he could do. Steve Nash talked about his youngest player and the Nets only rookie.

“We like Reggie’s skill set. He’s a guy that can develop into a very good three-point shooter and he’s got a good feel for the game,” Nash said.

“He can pass. He can play triple-handoff, pick-and-roll in the short role, make plays for his teammates, and he’s skilled around the basket. If he continues to develop in all those things and is able to defend at an improved and accelerated rate, he is definitely an NBA player and can help us. I just want to give him that opportunity in the bubble to keep growing, keep getting better, and get those minutes that allow him to develop.”

Perry also drew praise from Kevin Durant, who said the 21-year-old played “like a seasoned vet” Not bad for a player who was taken with the 57th pick in the Draft.

On Monday during a break from his streetball tournament in his hometown of Thomasville, Georgia., Perry returned the praise of KD and his other veteran teammates.

“I mean they’re great role models on and off the court. They’re guys who like to perfect their craft so I watch them and work as hard as I can with them. It’s even better,” Perry Told ABC 27 in nearby Tallahassee.

Perry is expected to play a big role on the Nets summer league entry. He along with Nic Claxton and Alize Johnson are slated to be the core of the Nets squad. His role in the upcoming season will likely be determined by just how well he does in Las Vegas.

As Alex Schiffer wrote Tuesday in his summary of the Nets free agent picture, it’s highly likely the Nets keep him, whether on a second two-way deal or a standard NBA contract.

The Nets traded for Perry’s rights as part of the same three-team deal that brought Bruce Brown and Landry Shamet to Brooklyn. There’s little doubt of his raw talent. At the time of the 2020 Draft, more than one analyst suggested he had top 20 talent but also had issues with his attitude. The Nets internal mock had him a lot higher as well.

Indeed, Perry was the MVP of the FIBA U19 tournament in Greece. Among those he beat out were 2020 lottery picks Tyrese Halliburton and Kira Lewis and projected 2021 lottery picks Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs and Scottie Barnes. Not bad company.

The Nets could use some depth up front, particularly in rebounding and defense. How much should they expect from Perry is an open question at least until after the Summer League, which opens August 8. Perry thinks he’s come a ways.

“There’s a lot of learning throughout the entire year being able to play with a lot of good vets, lots of good players and future Hall of Farmers” he told the Tallahassee station Monday. “It was just a blessing to be on that team and be able to learn. I’m just blessed to have that opportunity.”