EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Andrea Bargnani's weeklong absence from the court ended Monday and might lead to him playing in one of the Nets' three remaining preseason games.
Bargnani practiced for the first time since experiencing tightness in his left hamstring following the Nets' five-day training camp at Duke University and didn't have any setbacks. Though he participated in only a portion of their two-hour session, it still is a positive step for the injury-plagued big man.
"It felt good doing half of practice and then [Tuesday] I will try to do more," Bargnani said. "So everything is going well . . . I kept working, I kept the conditioning going [while out]. But it's great to do a half practice."
It remains to be seen whether Bargnani's activity level increases to the point where he's able to get in some game action over the next six days. The Nets host the Celtics on Wednesday and 76ers Sunday before finishing the preseason against the Celtics next Monday in Boston.
Bargnani isn't completely sure if he will play in any of those contests. "I would do every practice, I would play every game obviously if it were up to me. So we've got to be conscious and get back when I'm 100 percent."
Signed to a two-year deal for the veteran's minimum in the offseason after turning down more money to play for the Kings, the Nets are banking on Bargnani's versatility. Dogged by hamstring and calf injuries throughout his career, the Nets hope he will bring a different dimension to a front line that features Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, providing Brooklyn with a serviceable inside-outside scoring threat.
Bargnani said he's confident he can get the job done at either spot in coach Lionel Hollins' scheme.
"In our plays it doesn't matter who is the 'four' or 'five' because they are interchangeable in the plays," Bargnani said. "Me personally, it's even more irrelevant because I've always played the 'four' and 'five' positions. So it's going to be up to coach. Whatever he needs me to do at that moment I step on the court."
Bargnani isn't the only Net to get welcomed back. Thomas Robinson, who is rehabbing a sprained right wrist, practiced in a limited capacity for the first time since getting banged up in the preseason opener. But rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sat out, nursing a sprained right ankle.
Navigating through all the bumps and bruises so early in the preseason is a concern for Hollins, considering the number of new key faces being incorporated into the mix. The inability to take a good look at certain floor combinations makes it challenging to get a handle on the strengths and weaknesses of potential five-man units.
"It is difficult to evaluate because guys are out," Hollins said. "It's difficult to make those decisions that you come in thinking, 'OK, what group plays well together? What group doesn't? Who meshes better with each other?' And when they are out, it just delays those decisions. But it's not a big concern, it just delays the decisions -- maybe all the way into the first month of the season."