If the Nets have a rallying cry this season, it must be, "Man down! Next man up!"
Their 29 different starting lineups are second-most in the NBA, and on Thursday, they learned seven-time All-Star center LaMarcus Aldridge is retiring after experiencing an irregular heartbeat during the last game he played against the Lakers last Saturday night.
In the two games since then, they started second-year man Nic Claxton and then veteran DeAndre Jordan at center. It was expected Jordan would get the call against the Hornets on Friday night at Barclays Center.
"I was shocked at first," veteran Jeff Green said of the news of Aldridge’s retirement. "But I’m happy for him. For me, having gone through heart surgery, health is very important. This basketball life, he did a great 15 years. You want to be around your kids, your family, your wife. I think that’s most important. You’ve got to take care of yourself first. He made the decision to step away, and I fully support him on that.
"I didn’t know he was retiring until yesterday. I thought he was going to meet us in Philly [on Wednesday]. But it didn’t happen, and I found out yesterday he was retiring. I talked to him. He’s in good spirits. That’s all you can ask for."
Green has served as a small-ball center at times this season, and he also has started at power forward as he did in Wednesday’s loss to the 76ers when Jordan started at center. Asked how the Nets will adjust to the latest change affecting their roster, Green said he thought it might bring them closer in a way.
"We just try to create positives out of everything," Green said. "With injuries, next man up. [We’re] supporting guys that are getting playing time because guys are out and making sure that they’re comfortable with coming in and being themselves and helping us win games.
"Through all that, we’re still in a great position heading into the playoffs, so I think we’ve dealt with it fine, but we’ve just got to continue to be better, continue to support each other and that’s what we have been doing. We’ve been continuing to progress in the right way with all the injuries that have been happening. I’m happy to get everybody healthy pretty soon and leading into the playoffs."
That’s the goal anyway. James Harden (strained right hamstring) and Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness) remained on the injury list against the Hornets. But Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin, both of whom sat out against the 76ers because it was the second game of a back-to-back set, were scheduled to return to action.
Jordan likely will play a key role going forward. After sitting out six games since being replaced as the starter by Aldridge, he had 12 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and one blocked shot in the loss to the 76ers.
"He’s doing a great job of adjusting his attitude to just being ready at all times," Kyrie Irving said of Jordan. "We’ll see what happens, but we’ve got to be a lot tougher, stay together, and we’ll be OK."