Caris LeVert, who has missed 23 games, needs "more rhythm,"...

Caris LeVert, who has missed 23 games, needs "more rhythm," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

DALLAS — Caris LeVert did everything his Nets teammates did in practice Wednesday afternoon at American Airlines Center and put in an additional workout after they left; he insisted he’s in top condition after missing the past 23 games, and he said his surgically repaired right thumb “feels pretty good so far.”

But coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets’ performance team turned thumbs down on the prospect of LeVert making his comeback against the Mavericks Thursday night, and they might be even more short-handed because Garrett Temple (right knee contusion), who is starting in place of LeVert at two-guard, is listed as questionable.

When he spoke to the media after practice, LeVert described himself as “very close” to a return. But he indicated a final decision is up to the performance team. “I’m in compliance with them right now,” LeVert said. “I’m really close to playing, my body feels good, so, I can’t wait to get out there and help the team.”

The Nets certainly could use reinforcements. They have lost three straight for the first time while playing without LeVert and Kyrie Irving, who missed the previous 21 games with a right shoulder impingement. But Atkinson so far has resisted the urge to push LeVert back into action until he’s satisfied the third-year player is ready to hit the ground running.

“It’s just getting a sufficient amount of play where we feel very comfortable and very confident,” Atkinson said. “It’s our protocol for building up. He was out a while. That goes into the thinking.”

LeVert was able to maintain good condition because he has been able to run while his thumb heals, but Atkinson said, “It’s more rhythm. It’s a little bit my philosophy that guys need a certain amount of contact and a certain amount of play to get their rhythm. But we’re close.”

LeVert has been working with the first and second units and is playing both guard spots. But Atkinson previously indicated he might use LeVert as point guard with the second unit to add scoring and ballhandling.

“He’ll have to be the Swiss Army knife,” Atkinson said of the role he envisions. “It’s easy to slide him in there in many positions. He’s a point guard at heart, so, he feels comfortable and knows all of our stuff. It will really help [Temple], too, just getting him back in his comfort zone.”

In the meantime, Atkinson must figure out how to adjust if Temple can’t go against the Mavs, who are off to a 21-12 start and tied for fifth in the Western Conference. Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness) sat out a loss to the Thunder Tuesday night in Oklahoma City and his status is uncertain against the Nets, but he and Luka Doncic have formed an effective tandem.

“They are the best offensive team in the league,” Atkinson said. “So, it’s the ultimate challenge.”

The Nets lately have struggled at the offensive end and that might continue until LeVert returns. His next opportunity will be Saturday night at Barclays Center against the defending champion Raptors.

“I’m sure we’ll make a decision Friday or Saturday morning, something like that,” LeVert said.

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