Freak Time has arrived in Brooklyn! The Brooklyn Nets will face off against the new-look Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night, looking to improve to 4-3 after their three-game winning streak was ended by the Boston Celtics. While we await the tip, some pregame content — on Nic Claxton’s injury, Royce O’Neale’s play, and more — directly from Head Coach Jacque Vaughn.
Editor’s note: Not all questions/answers from the press conference are in this article.
Q: Is there an update on [Nic Claxton’s] availability and what his injury looks like? Because I know you said you wanted to take a good look at it once you returned home. (Triplett)
JV: Yeah, still listed as day-to-day. That’s just where he is with his ankle sprain. I think he also talked about being day-to-day, so it’s just how he’s responding on the stimulus that he’s getting on a daily basis. He was on the court this morning, and we’ll see how he responds, and really, it is day-to-day.
Q: When [Claxton] says a high ankle sprain...is it worse than it might have initially appeared, or is it possible that, maybe, he got the the terminology wrong? (Lewis)
JV: I think if you look at the play, there was no contact. So, it wasn’t 3rd-down-and-12, so it was no tackle or anything that happened. It was in the third quarter of the Cleveland game, no contact, Nic stepped awkwardly, and so I’m not concerned that this is something that’s going to linger for a long time.
Q: What is Claxton capable of doing, and what’s the next step that he’s got to go through? (Lewis)
JV: You know me Brian, I’m always cognizant of the athlete and want them to feel mentally and physically ready to perform. And so, I’ll wait, and I’ll sit back, and when Nic is ready mentally, and physically capable, and ready to perform, then he’ll be back on the court. I’ll never pressure an athlete to get back out there. That’s totally the athlete’s decision. And Nic’s in a zone right now where he wants to feel comfortable about returning and playing at a high level, and I’ll support him and we will until he’s comfortable.
Q: You’re asking Royce to shoot a lot of threes this year, and on the other end to box out the other team’s biggest player. How have you seen him take on both of those challenges, and how different is it for him at this point in his career to adjust to that role? (Kaplan)
JV: Yeah, that’s me learning as a coach. You know last year, I put a lot on his plate early in the year. I think we paid the price for that. I don’t know if I wore him out halfway through the year because of injuries. Now, we find ourselves in a similar position missing two guys that would take up some of those minutes, but we have complete faith in him. You know, I walked into that game talking about ‘we want to shoot 20 threes between him and Doe,’ and we ended up doing that. Full confidence that he gets those looks tonight, we want him to shoot them. Also, we want him to defend; also we want him to box out. He’s just a dude that I totally trust. Someone that I can ask him to do anything and he’s there to do it. So I lean on him a lot in the locker room and on the floor and really trust him.
Q: How would just describe Brook Lopez’s evolution since he played here all those years back? (Sblendorio)
JV: It’s awesome to see. I’m fortunate that I was a part of that staff with Kenny Atkinson when we really encouraged Brook to start shooting the three. But I also see his evolution as a post-up player who got fouled, and shot off one leg, and was a post presence that you threw the ball into multiple times throughout the course of the night. It’s a great challenge for a player first of all to understand his role and then to evolve with the game and he is the primary person that I can think of that’s done that, and done it at a high level, been able to win a championship, impact the team, and he’s still impacting the game right now because he evolved. His ability to protect the rim is awesome to see. He is relentless at doing it. He is unselfish at doing it. He enjoys doing it, and so when you get a guy like that, a really good person, and to see his game evolve — pretty impressive.