Kris Humphries was summoned into Avery Johnson's office before the Nets' 95-92 win over the 76ers Sunday, and the coach delivered some sobering news to his usual starting power forward.
"He just said he was starting Gerald [Wallace] and it was going to be inconsistent for me for a while," Humphries said. "I really didn't know it was going to be a DNP, but you've got to be ready to handle anything in the NBA.
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"Anybody wants to start and play as much as possible, so you are obviously frustrated. But it's about more than one player."
Humphries never even peeled off his warm-ups, staying glued to the Nets' bench. Keith Bogans started in the frontcourt, sparkplug Reggie Evans backed up Wallace at power forward and Johnson said that likely is the way his lineup will be. Humphries, who has looked lost at times offensively and often failed to rotate to the right spots defensively, is the odd man out.
"He's fine. He's healthy. He's not in the doghouse," Johnson said. "Hey, we just had to try something else . . . "
"We'll just see how it goes. At the end of the day, we've got to settle on something. Sixty percent of the league plays this way, and this also helps us on transition defense because we have smaller, quicker guys and the floor is spaced differently."
Humphries, who signed a two-year, $24-million contract in the offseason, turned his game around under Johnson's tutelage, averaging double-doubles the previous two seasons. But he's had problems with some of the simple things this season, and Johnson thought it was time for a change.
"He's been here with me since day one, and I really respect him and I really do like him," Johnson said. "He's worked hard. I've gone to bat for him in a lot of different situations since day one. It's a tough situation for him.
"It's not like he was jumping up and giving me a hug and was really excited. I just told him this is the way we've got to go. We'll see where we go from here, and if I call his name, he's going to have to be ready to play."