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TJ Warren is ‘on track’ with recovery, hopes to make his Nets debut ‘soon’

T.J. Warren made a rare appearance on Saturday afternoon, distributing healthier food options to public housing residents in Bushwick, Brooklyn, at the “Eat and Move Better Boxes” event. The 29-year-old forward has largely been behind the scenes since signing with the Nets in July, working diligently to get back onto the hardwood while rehabilitating from foot surgery.

“Soon,” said Warren about his return, tweeting out his enthusiasm before the event.

His head coach, Steve Nash, had said previously that Warren would be re-evaluated in November, a check-up on the recovery process of his left foot. Dr. Martin O’Malley, the Nets foot/ankle surgeon who is also on staff at the Hospital for Special Surgery, operated on Warren in January of 2021 when the forward was with the Pacers.

Warren mentioned that O’Malley was a driving factor in his signing with Brooklyn this summer., O’Malley also operated on Kevin Durant’s right Achilles tendon,

“This is definitely a comfort level of O’Malley actually being a team doctor here. He’s seen everything since day one,” said Warren. “Just a peace of mind knowing that he’s in my corner here.”

Warren didn’t go into much detail about what his rehabilitation process entailed and what he’s able to do with the team—no mention of 5-of-5 or 3-on-3, for example—though he has been pictured numerous times at Nets practice shooting on the move and lightly jogging. He did mention, however, that he’s “on track.”

“I’m doing everything I can. The training staff has been great, and I like my progression,” Warren said on Saturday. “So I’m on track. I’m excited about that.”

In the meantime, Warren’s keeping himself busy with events like the “Eat and Move Better Boxes” event, handing out low-sugar, low-salt and low-fat food products to residents at the Bushwick Public Housing community. Warren noted that the borough has “welcomed him with open arms” since arriving this summer.

“It’s a great day to be able to come back to the community and give back, able to provide food for the community. Brooklyn has welcomed me with open arms. So definitely fortunate to be here, and definitely excited to be here,” said Warren. “So, all is well.”

Warren, who spent his previous seven seasons in Phoenix and Indiana, mentioned how much he appreciated the culture in Brooklyn, stating that New Yorkers “love their hoops.”

“Just, like, entertainment, musically, community, everybody’s kind of on the verge of breaking through. Everybody, they love hoop here,” said Warren about what he’s noticed in Brooklyn. “Just, like, a strong bond in the community here, so it’s just kind of welcoming to see that.”

That “love” for hoop wasn’t necessarily a shock to Warren, who grew up going to tournaments in the New York area as a Durham, North Carolina native. He concluded by calling New York a “hoops heaven.”

“I’m an East Coast kid. So I’ve been coming up here throughout my whole life. I remember playing at tournaments up here, Rumble in the Bronx. I’ve been coming up here for a while. So kinda got a grasp of the fast pace. It’s like a hoops heaven up here. They love their hoops in New York.”

Warren could be a major boost for the Nets. In his most recent full NBA season, he averaged just a shade under 20 points per game as the starting small forward for a playoff team in Indiana. He’s the textbook definition of an X-Factor should he get back on the floor in time for Brooklyn. Here’s what we wrote about that potential during the off-season.