Although initial indications were that Joe Harris didn’t play vs. the Heat on Thursday as a precaution following two ankle surgeries in the last 12 months, Steve Nash said post-game that the veteran 3-point shooter has experienced a “little” soreness. The soreness, according a league source, is in his foot, not the affected left ankle.
“What I meant was that I hope it’s not like a lingering thing,” Nash said post-game. “I think it’s just a precaution tonight. He’s a little sore and we just want to make sure he gets the proper recovery so that he can come back to full strength.”
The Nets started Royce O’Neale in Harris place vs. Miami. Harris had two surgeries on the left ankle which he injured on November 14 of last season. Harris had surgery two weeks later. Sean Marks said at Media Day last week that at the time of the first surgery, Harris and the Nets understood there might be a need for a second procedure. Indeed, Harris underwent the knife again on March 21, officially ending his season.
There’s no indication yet that the issue will linger. Nor was there any discussion of whether the soreness would have been enough to keep him out if Thursday’s contest had been a regular season game. Harris played 15 minutes vs. the 76ers on Monday.
Harris has been the NBA’s best 3-point shooter by percentage in two of his last three complete seasons and losing his perimeter scoring as well as his underappreciated defense hurt Brooklyn last year. Nash said that his absence was felt Thursday night as well. In particular, Nash noted that with Harris and Kyrie Irving out, there wasn’t a lot of spacing for Ben Simmons game to work with. Simmons took only three shots all night.
“I think he’s gonna grow in that respect,” Nash said. “He’s gonna get more attempts. Right now, obviously, it’s a little clunky for us, especially when we’re missing some guys tonight who space the floor and put pressure on the defense. They can load up and do some of those things.”
Nash also dismissed the idea that Harris and O’Neale, both 6’6” wings, were competing with each other.
“I think they are both going to play a lot,” he said. “I don’t know if one is taking minutes from the other. I think I feel they are both going to play a lot of minutes and play a big role.”
Expect beat writers to ask Nash about Harris’ status through next Wednesday when the Nets play the Bucks in Milwaukee.
- Joe Harris dealing with ankle soreness as he misses Nets second preseason game - Christian Arnold - amNY