The talent is piling up from floor to ceiling at the Nets’ training facility, and the time is approaching when they will have a healthy roster and coach Steve Nash will have to sort out the playing-time puzzle. But Nash did not have to come up with any definitive answers after practice on Sunday, so he kicked that can of worms down the road.
The Nets’ imminent signing of free-agent former All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge did not become official until late Sunday night, so Nash was not allowed to comment on him by name.
Aldridge most recently saw action in 21 contests (18 starts) for the Spurs this season, averaging 13.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.9 minutes per game.
Nash said guard Kyrie Irving, who missed the previous three games for personal reasons, will be available against the Timberwolves in the first game of a three-game homestand Monday night.
Kevin Durant, who has missed 18 straight games with a strained left hamstring, and guard Landry Shamet, who sat out the past three games with a sprained right ankle, are not ready to return but were deemed close by Nash.
"I doubt they will play this week," Nash said. "Kevin played four-on-four with the guys and looks good and is progressing but still needs to be monitored and still needs to get a certain markers under his belt before we could put him in the frame again. Landry needs time. It’s not going to be a long-term thing, but he’s not available [Monday] for sure."
When the Nets traded for James Harden on Jan. 14, they sacrificed considerable frontcourt depth. But DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green stepped into larger roles, and second-year man Nic Claxton returned from injury and has grown into a dynamic role as a big man who can defend on the perimeter and who can get to the rim on offense.
Since then, the Nets have acquired big men Aldridge and Blake Griffin, and now Durant is close to his return. Where will Nash find enough minutes, and will Claxton remain in a prominent role?
"It’s something that we’ll figure out as we go," Nash said. "Something comes up every week this season. Your options seem to be outstanding, and then very quickly they’re limited. We’ll adjust and adapt as we go and do the best we can to put the team in the best position to win and to grow.
"It’ll declare itself as we proceed and as we deal with all the different things that will be thrown at us . . . Right now, I can’t predict how that’s going to be. But we have lots of depth, lots of options, and we’re excited about it."
Asked for his reaction when the news broke on Saturday that Aldridge was joining the Nets, Claxton couldn’t help but smile.
"I was just chilling in my apartment, and honestly, the more the merrier," he said. "The more players we get, the deeper we are, the better we’ll be. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
"The coaches have a lot of different tools and different guys they can put in and a lot of decisions to make. I’m a younger guy on the team, so I can learn from these guys for sure."