Nic Claxton is counting the days until he can get back on the basketball court and finally play alongside the Nets superstars he grew up watching.
Claxton hasn’t played a game this season because of right knee tendinopathy. The second year, 6-11 forward/center was allowed to resume practice on a limited basis with the team on Monday, but coach Steve Nash said it likely would be three more weeks before he is ready to play.
"It is definitely tough being injured right now with the talent we brought in and of course I am really ready to be out there and help the team but I just got to stay patient," Claxton said. "That is one thing I have learned. I had my surgery and had some flares with my tendinitis but I am just trying to stay patient. I’ll be traveling soon and I’ll be ready to assert myself when the time comes."
So far since being picked with the 31st overall pick in the 2019 draft, Claxton has played in just 15 games, averaging 12.5 minutes, 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds. Last year he missed games because of a hamstring injury and then had arthroscopic labrum repair surgery on his left shoulder on June 24.
"He is progressing. I don’t have a date for you but he is progressing and not quite with the stay-ready group," said Nash, referring to the guys who are ready to play if needed. "He did play with some coaches today. He’s almost a half measure of the stay-ready group and will be there shortly, hopefully. There is progress and what seems like momentum and light at the end of the tunnel but I would say probably a good three weeks before he plays in an NBA game at a minimum. Still a moving target but positive signs for sure."
Claxton said dealing with the tendinitis has been "a process."
"We are not trying to rush anything. I really built my lower body up slowly and that has really helped build my overall body," the 21-year-old said. "As I said, we are taking our time and you don’t want to rush anything, especially dealing with tendinitis. The performance staff has been taking this slow and when it is time for me to be back, I’ll be ready and be the best version of myself."
The Nets certainly could use someone of Claxton’s size on the defensive end as they continue to try to plug the hole left by trading Jarrett Allen in the James Harden deal.
Claxton said he is looking to help the team any way he can.
"Just being an energy guy," Claxton said. "Getting offensive rebounds, helping us out defensively, being vocal, and quarterbacking the defense. Offensively, just bringing that versatility piece and being able to finish around the rim, catch lobs, and do different things."
Notes & quotes: Kyrie Irving returned to the starting lineup Tuesday night against the Pistons in Detroit after sitting out Saturday’s Eastern Conference loss to the first place Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets will remain without Kevin Durant for the next few games because of the quarantine from the bizarre situation that took place last Friday when Durant was pulled off the floor in the third quarter……Nash called on James Harden to be more aggressive, especially when both Irving and Durant are not on the floor. "I think when they are not in the lineup with him, he should be more aggressive for sure," Nash said before the game in Detroit. "An aggressive James is the way we want him to play. Some nights that might be 15 assists and some nights that might be 35 points and 15 assists.