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Steve Nash: Rookies should prepare for limited roles on stacked Nets team

2021 Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets will have two rookies on their roster plus at least one on a two-way deal. Despite solid performances in Summer League and high hopes, the young ones will be unlikely to see much time when the NBA starts up next month. Steve Nash said he’s already told them that.

“The guys have been in the gym a lot for a few weeks now, and that’s the positive. They worked hard. I think we see NBA players in them, and it’s just a matter of developing them all. It’s a tough team to break into, so some of these rookies have their work cut out for them if they’re going to get in the rotation for sure. But that’s a great challenge for them,” Nash said Tuesday during his and Sean Marks annual press conference.

“I was a 15th pick who only played my rookie year when KJ (Suns star Kevin Johnson) was injured. It’s not how you start, it’s how you get there. That’s what I definitely have preached to some of our rookies already. You’ve got to play the long game, and whether you crack the rotation or not, whether you don’t play a minute or spend some time in the G League, it’s important to think long-term and not give away days. If you have that mentality and attitude, this will be a very productive year for you whether you play or don’t play.”

As of now, the Nets have their two first rounders, Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe, playing on standard NBA deals, and Kessler Edwards, their highest second rounder on a two-way deal. A fourth rookie, undrafted David Duke Jr.. is on an Exhibit 10 deal and fighting for the second two-way. (The Nets also have two other second rounders, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray, whose contract status is uncertain. Speculation is that they’ll be signed directly to the Long Island Nets, which would mean they wouldn’t count against the NBA roster or salary cap.)

Marks said that he and his staff are still evaluating candidates for the 20th and final training camp slot, even suggesting that they may not even use it. In any event, he noted that the staff can wait till camp to see who’s the best fit for the two-way. Under the NBA’s year-old rules on two-ways, the players are paid half the rookie minimum and can be active for up to 50 NBA games before the team must decide whether to upgrade them to a standard deal.

“Regarding the two-way, I think it’s nice to go in and have healthy competition,” said Marks. “That’s the way we’re going to look at that. There’s going to be nothing set in stone. There’s nobody with a leg up per se.

As for that final slot, Marks said the Nets still have some time.

“I think we’re going to use this next week, next few days to try and figure out, do we want to fill that out? Steve and I have had multiple discussions with the coaching staff how they want to attack camp. A lot depends on the reps in camp and do we need to go in with 20, do we keep it at 19.”

The Nets will have to decide by Monday when teams submit their final rosters to the league — and teams release camp rosters.

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Meanwhile, there’s news about last year’s rookie, Reggie Perry has signed with the Raptors, apparently an Exhibit 10 deal. The Raptors now have 12 players with guaranteed deals and other six who will fight for the remaining spots, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

That leaves only Tyler Johnson from last year’s squad still unsigned.