Brooklyn Nets player Mikal Bridges during a training session in...

Brooklyn Nets player Mikal Bridges during a training session in France on Wednesday prior to their NBA Paris game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunande

The Nets didn’t head to Paris in the best of moods after an overtime loss to the Trail Blazers. But that changed once they landed in France.

They’ve enjoyed the sights, including a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. Royce O’Neale visited soccer club Paris-Saint Germain and their training academy. Coach Jacque Vaughn joked about enjoying the local cuisine, although he hadn’t tried escargot yet.

With the Nets set to play the Cavaliers at Accor Arena in the NBA Paris Game on Thursday, the trip has been both business and cultural enlightenment. Most of the team had never been to France so they wanted to soak in the experience.

“Any time you can go abroad and take our product, our guys and welcome them to a different culture and part of the world, and still play the game that we love, I think that’s important,” Vaughn said in December.

Nic Claxton went to Paris last summer, so he’s one of the only players who knew what to expect from the city. As someone who loves fashion, he felt at home in one of the most prominent fashion capitals of the world.

He also didn’t have to play tour guide since the Nets had various events planned. But he also understood the opportunity teammates had since he was with the Nets as a rookie when they traveled to China in 2019 for a preseason game with the Lakers.

“It’s just cool being able to go to Europe, being able to play on this stage,” Claxton said. “We can't take these things for granted. We went to China a few years back and I know this would be a good experience for the team. So I'm excited.”

The Nets also had several community events planned, including an orchestral tribute concert for the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. on Wednesday evening. There’s also a pop-up pizza shop that offered food, merchandise and a place to watch Thursday’s game.

Speaking of that game, it comes at a perilous time for the Nets. They’ve lost 11 of their last 14 games, including six of their last seven, and have lost any trace of the defense-first identity they wanted to have this season.

Day’Ron Sharpe suffering a hyperextended left knee means the Nets won’t have their backup center for at least two weeks. Vaughn told reporters in Paris that not only will Claxton have to play more minutes, but also Harry Giles III could get more time on the court. Giles’ contract became fully guaranteed Sunday, but he has mostly played garbage-time minutes this season

The Cavaliers, who enter with a three-game win streak, also look different from the team the Nets faced in their season opener, a 114-113 loss at Barclays Center. Evan Mobley (left knee) and Darius Garland (fractured jaw) are out.

Still, the Nets are balancing business with fun this trip. Lonnie Walker IV brought his father and it’s a moment that he’ll treasure as much as hoping to get a win Thursday.

“We haven’t flown overseas or gone anywhere in 12-plus years,” Walker said. “So I think that aspect — learning the culture and growing outside of basketball — is very entertaining."

Simmons doing 3-on-3 workouts

In a series of tweets on X, formerly Twitter, Ben Simmons’ agent Bernie Lee updated his client’s progress by saying he’s now doing 3-on-3 on-court work.

Vaughn said last week that Simmons was doing 2-on-2 work with coaches. Simmons told reporters in Paris he’s progressing and will be back soon but just as he said on Dec. 22, he didn’t offer a timeline for his return.

Lee praised how the Nets handled things while explaining Simmons’ slow recovery progress.

"He does something for 4-5 days, we assess how it felt, test him, move to the next phase," Lee wrote on X. "He's getting to the home stretch.”

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