The Nets’ 17-man roster is populated by five new veterans, two rookie draft choices and two new two-way players, and they have been dealing with a litany of preseason injuries, including a groin strain that has sidelined starting power forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for more than two months. Now they basically have one week to pull it together for the regular season with three preseason games in five nights, starting Monday in Detroit.
Discussing the hurdles the Nets have faced during training camp, DeMarre Carroll said after Sunday’s practice, “It’s been challenging, but at the same time, it’s basketball. It’s something we love to do, we know how to do. I feel like we’ll overcome it. I think we’ll get better.
“We’ve still got a couple guys out, Rondae and Shabazz [Napier]. I think those two key guys are part of our rotation, a big part of our team. It’s definitely difficult, but at the end of the day, we’ll get through it.”
Hollis-Jefferson recently has been a partial participant in practice but is nursing a groin strain he suffered while playing in an exhibition game in China. Napier (hamstring) also will sit against the Pistons, as will two-way player Alan Williams (ankle). But coach Kenny Atkinson said forward Kenneth Faried practiced Sunday and will make his Nets debut against the Pistons.
Asked if he is concerned about Hollis-Jefferson’s status for the regular-season opener Oct. 17 in Detroit, Atkinson said, “ ‘Concern’ is the wrong word. I just think we’re doing everything we can to get him ready. We’re lucky it’s a guy that knows our system. I don’t expect him to miss a beat.”
Carroll started at small forward last season but has moved to power forward with Hollis-Jefferson out. Faried will come off the bench at that spot. “He was good today in practice, good energy, all over the boards, running the court,” Atkinson said of Faried. “I want to get a better feel for how he fits with what we’re doing . . . With Faried, maybe we can mix in some big, big lineups and try that.”
After facing the Pistons, the Nets have another road game against the Raptors on Wednesday in Montreal and then close their preseason schedule against the Knicks on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
After all the injuries and experimentation of training camp, Carroll said it will be “very important” to get off to a fast start in the regular season.
“Confidence is key,” Carroll said. “I think we definitely got to come out playing hard-nosed basketball. I feel like we put in too much work in this offseason to come out lackadaisical. We only won 28 games, so I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be a team that doesn’t play hard. You all can write in the paper [that] we’re definitely going to compete at a high level.”