EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Deron Williams will return to the Nets' starting lineup. His coach just doesn't know when.
The Nets' $98-million point guard has come off the bench the last five games since returning from an ankle injury on Jan. 20, and coach Jason Kidd said Wednesday that Williams will have to resume his starting role "at some point," but there isn't much of a rush.
"We haven't even talked about it," Kidd said after practice. "We gave him and Joe [Johnson] rest days, so [Thursday] we'll see how they feel and see if we have time to get them with that first group."
With a tough stretch of games upcoming -- beginning with the Thunder and Pacers this weekend -- now would seem an ideal time for Williams' reinsertion into the starting five.
Williams has played in only 27 games this season, limited and often slowed by leg injuries. Since returning against the Knicks, he has averaged 11.2 points and 8.2 assists in 30 minutes per game as a reserve. Williams, who has said he was the one who first suggested the reduced role, insisted Wednesday he'll continue to "go with the flow."
Johnson said Williams has told him he's "kind of enjoying it." Johnson said the change hasn't impacted the chemistry at all, nor has there been much of an adjustment.
"You only look at it because he's Deron and he's basically the franchise player, but he's in there in crunch time," Johnson said. "He told me . . . it gives him a chance to sit back and see how the game is being played, then he comes in and can put his stamp on it."
That wasn't quite the case Monday against the Raptors, when Williams had an inbounds pass intercepted in the final seconds, leading to Patrick Patterson's winning jumper in a 104-103 loss -- only the Nets' second in 12 games. The team reviewed tape Wednesday, focusing mostly on its miscues in the last two minutes of that contest, Kidd said.
"Looking back, don't throw it to that end of the floor," Williams said of his turnover. "If I threw it to the other side and they steal it, we still have time to get back and set up . . . But you learn from your mistakes."
Notes & quotes: Andrei Kirilenko missed practice with a sore right calf but said the injury isn't serious. He said he expects to be fine but will be re-evaluated Thursday. "Just feeling it a little bit," said Kirilenko, who had the calf bandaged. "I don't want to force it." . . . Rookie Mason Plumlee was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 14 as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend. Plumlee, a 6-11 forward, has averaged 5.6 points and three rebounds in 33 games.