All Harry Giles III wanted this summer was a shot. A chance to play again on an NBA roster.
Last Thursday, Giles didn’t just suit up but started for the Nets. In his second preseason game, he finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Nets’ win over Maccabi Ra’anana.
For someone who hadn’t played in preseason since 2021, Giles felt relieved and proud. But as a veteran, he knew the job took priority over his feelings.
He didn’t play Monday night in the Nets’ 127-119 preseason loss to the 76ers at Barclays Center. But for someone who hadn’t played in preseason since 2021, Giles was pleased with his progress even as he’s fighting for a roster spot. “You always got to go out there and compete regardless of what emotions you’re feeling through the game,” Giles said. “It’s still basketball, man, still going out here and doing my job.”
The Nets (1-2 in preseason) signed Giles this summer to an Exhibit 9 contract, a non-guaranteed deal that’s essentially a training camp invitation. The difference between an Exhibit 10 contract is that an Exhibit 9 deal allows teams to pay players $15,000 if they get injured and eventually waived.
It’s allowed the 6-11 forward to revive a career derailed by several injuries. Before being drafted in 2017, Giles, once ESPN’s top high school recruit, had three knee surgeries, including one as a high school senior to repair a torn right ACL. After missing his rookie season to improve strength in his knees, Giles played two seasons in Sacramento. He played 38 games with the Trail Blazers in 2020-21 and his most recent attempt to play ended in January 2022 after a season-ending injury with the Clippers’ G-League team.
It would’ve been easy to move on. But he wanted to keep playing and it led to a workout in Las Vegas this summer, which the Nets attended along with another workout in Miami.
“I love the game of basketball,” Giles said. “I love what I do and any chance I get to bounce back and prove myself again and show that I’m still able to do what I love to do, then I’m going to do it.”
Whether it leads to a roster spot will be decided by next Monday when teams have to finalize their rosters. The Nets have 16 players for 15 spots and in competition for the last two spots is Giles, Trendon Watford and Darius Bazley.
Watford and Bazley got more minutes Monday and Watford had 13 points and seven rebounds. Bazley had eight points.
All three have helped the Nets with rebounding while Watford has shown off his scoring with double figures in the last two games. Meanwhile Giles earned praise from coach Jacque Vaughn and Nic Claxton for his physicality.
“Obviously he knows how to play,” Claxton said. “He’s been in and around the league for a while. I think we could definitely use him this year.”
Even if Giles makes the roster, playing time could be scarce behind Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe, who had nine points and 10 rebounds on Monday.
“Just trying to be the best version of myself and be the best piece I can for this team,” Giles said. “Whatever coach needs me to do, I’m going to go out there and do it.”