EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One particular Net was conspicuous by his absence from yesterday's practice, the first time the team hit the court since wrapping up preseason action Wednesday.
Deron Williams is dealing with inflammation in his left ankle and he wasn't around as the Nets began preparing in earnest for Thursday night's season opener against the Knicks. The All-Star point guard received an injection to help alleviate the problem.
Avery Johnson expects to hold Williams out of Saturday's practice but didn't seem overly concerned. "We don't think it's anything serious," he said at the PNY Center. "Just a case of tendinitis . . . We anticipate having him back Sunday or Monday. The reason why I say Sunday or Monday is because we were initially going to take Monday off. But because of this impending storm, we may have to practice Sunday and then keep our guys in on Monday."
Johnson said Williams' ankle flared up after Wednesday night's preseason finale against the Knicks at Nassau Coliseum. The Nets sent Williams to get a medical diagnosis.
"It's been a little bit bothering him off and on, but he didn't think much of it," Johnson said. "Obviously, it was more in the offseason and every now and then, it'll act up on him. But it didn't limit him in practice or anything. We've just been icing it. We sent him to the doctor, he checked him out and saw a little mild tendinitis in there.
"Hopefully, this treatment program that he's on will help him and he'll be ready to go in the next 24, 48 hours.''
Johnson didn't deny the possibility that the ankle ailment could linger for a while. "It may be something that we may have to manage," he said. "We'll see what happens after the next couple of days.''
Joe Johnson seemed confident that his backcourt mate will be fine for the opener at the Barclays Center. "We've got plenty of time for him to recover and get back to work,'' Johnson said. "That's not a worry of ours. We know Deron is going to be OK and we just wish to get him back out there as soon as possible.''
Practicing without their starting point guard isn't an ideal situation for the Nets, who need to work on jelling as a unit. It does give reserves C.J. Watson and Tyshawn Taylor extra minutes. But the Nets would prefer to have Williams out there while they sort through defensive breakdowns that became prevalent in the preseason.
"Sure, we'd love to have him for practice," Avery Johnson said, "but at the same time, we know Deron is going to be ready. He's played all summer. He knows what he's doing on the floor."