Nets guard Cam Thomas looks on against the LA Clippers...

Nets guard Cam Thomas looks on against the LA Clippers in the second half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Usually, when someone is doubtful on the injury report, it’s a bad sign for their status for the next game. For Cam Thomas, it was good news.

Thomas missed his ninth game Tuesday with a sprained ankle, but his status upgrade indicates he's close to being back. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said Thomas and Dennis Smith Jr. were able to do more team activities at the morning shootaround prior to the Nets' game against the Raptors at Barclays Center.

“[They] both kind of played in some simulated [action] vs. other teammates,” Vaughn said pregame. “It’s kind of tough on a game day. A little bit vs. other coaches but some sort of simulated -  as much as we can do on a game day. Four vs. 4, 5 vs. 5 full-court.

“They’re both trending in the direction of hopefully playing with us soon.”

Smith was listed as questionable Monday before being ruled out for his fourth consecutive game.

Vaughn supports in-season tournament

Count Vaughn as a fan of the NBA’s in-season tournament, just like his players.

He still wasn’t too familiar with every scenario awaiting the Nets going into their final group-play game. But like most, Vaughn was watching games on off-days to see how they turned out.

“I think it's beneficial for all of us in here,” Vaughn said. “And there's been many nights where now I know, Tuesday and Friday, there's a game on. Last Tuesday was some high level games and I was able to watch. So I think, for me, it is growing the game.”

His approach with the Nets for group-play was to keep things simple and treat the games with the same goal as any other regular season game. Get a win and keep it moving.

Yet as group-plays wraps up, Vaughn thinks the tournament has a bright future with the knockout rounds starting next week.

"I think there's something to it,” Vaughn said. “It's going to continue to grow, get better, some tweaks along the way, but I'm a fan of it."

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