Decision day is coming for the Nets.
Allen Crabbe missed his sixth straight game with a sore right knee Sunday night when the Nets beat Phoenix, 111-103, at Barclays Center. Joe Harris, a starter all season, has been opening at shooting guard for him instead of at small forward and rookie Rodions Kurucs has gone from reserve to starter at small forward.
Coach Kenny Atkinson said Crabbe is expected back after Christmas. The Nets' next game is Wednesday against visiting Charlotte. The issue is that Kurucs has played surprisingly well and is a more natural fit at that three spot. The 20-year-old second-rounder scored a career-high 24 points Friday night in the loss to Indiana and followed it up with his first NBA double-double, delivering 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against the Suns.
So will Kurucs keep starting and will Crabbe move to the second unit when he returns? Kurucs said he “would love to keep that role.” That’s the decision for Atkinson.
“That’s a pleasant problem to have,” Atkinson said before the game. “We’ll see where Allen [is]. Allen is getting closer. So I don’t have to make that decision yet.
"One thing Rodi gives us, he gives us a legitimate 6-9 guy. Nothing against Allen, but him and Joe are more in the two-guard mold, and we’ve been starting them, and that’s fine, too.
“But Rodi does give us more defensive versatility and is a different type of player than Joe. He’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s a slasher. He’s a runner. So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
After the game, Atkinson said, “He keeps playing like this, it would be tough to take him out.”
Atkinson was ejected with 1:09 left in the Indiana game, and it came with a stiff price tag. The NBA fined him $25,000 Saturday for verbally abusing referee Tony Brothers and not leaving quickly enough. “I think it’s time to move on,” Atkinson said. “ . . . The referees -- I really mean this -- they do a fantastic job . . . I make mistakes; they make mistakes.”