Jamal Crawford is doubtful for the Nets’ restart opener, unlikely to get his conditioning up to speed in time to face the Magic on Friday. If that’s the case, expect even more responsibility to be heaped on their stalwart trio of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris.
“I’ll get with the performance team and see exactly where we are with Jamal. My inclination right now is that we’ll continue to build him up, and he might not be ready to play [against Orlando],” interim coach Jacque Vaughn said.
“That’s a piece of what we’ve preached from the beginning of getting these guys in a position to perform and sustain the performance over the duration of our time here. That’s a prime example of how we’re looking at the big picture.”
LeVert has been tasked with not only being the Nets’ top weapon but stepping out of his comfort zone and leading this decimated group.
“He’s done a great job leading the team. I don’t think he’s been tasked with this type of task before,” Allen said. “Now he’s taken on this big role, and he’s coming into it as himself. He’s not trying to be someone he isn’t, he’s still able to lead us while still being himself.”
With Vaughn having taken over when Brooklyn parted ways with Kenny Atkinson in March, the players realize they are to some extent playing for his job.
“For Jacque, we’re all super-willing to play for him, we’re super-willing to give a limb for him,” Allen said.
“He’s always been there. He’s always been the player-coach, he’s always been someone we can talk to, he’s always been someone to drop everything and come on the court just to rebound for us. So to come out there and play hard — whether it’s for his job or not — we’re going to play hard for him either way.”
The Nets are noncommittal about whether replacement player Donta Hall will be ready to play by Friday. But Allen insists his backup will surprise people when he finally does get on the court.
“He’s more well-experienced than people are to believe,” Allen said. “He has a jump shot, he knows where to be on defense, so you guys are going to get more out of him than people think.”
Rodions Kurucs is probable with a left hip contusion suffered in the final scrimmage.
Tyler Johnson responded to a negative story on social media, saying it’s a tactic he uses to fire himself up.
“I do that for myself,” Johnson said. “You look for little things just to get you back locked-in. … You’re not out to necessarily prove one individual wrong, but you are aware that there’s doubt in your ability to play the game. If that doesn’t fuel you as a player or as a competitor, then you’re probably in the wrong occupation.”
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