The Brooklyn Nets got some good news on the injury front Monday, according to reports, with Shabazz Napier to be available Wednesday in Cleveland.
According to reports, the Brooklyn Nets will have two players available Wednesday when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena that have not seen any game action as of yet.
Coach Kenny Atkinson told Michael Scotto of The Athletic that forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and guard Shabazz Napier will be available, which will be the first time all season that has been the case.
Hollis-Jefferson strained his left adductor in August while attempting a dunk in China participating in Jeremy Lin‘s charity game there.
He had been cleared to return against the New York Knicks on Friday, but sat out the back-to-back set with the Knicks and Indiana Pacers after the Thursday birth of his son.
Hollis-Jefferson is the longest-tenured member of the Brooklyn Nets, joining them in 2015 after his draft rights were acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in a deal that sent Mason Plumlee to the Pacific Northwest.
RHJ started 59 of his 68 games last season and Brooklyn was 24-35 with Hollis-Jefferson in the starting lineup. They were 4-19 in the other 23 games, so his return could potentially be big.
He averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 28.2 minutes per game last season, setting career-highs in each category except for steals.
Improvements in his mid-range game boosted his shooting percentage to a career-best 47.2 percent, while he hit 24.1 percent from 3-point range and a career-high 78.8 percent at the line.
Napier, meanwhile, joined the club as an unrestricted free agent in July after two seasons with the Trail Blazers. However, the fifth-year guard strained his right hamstring in training camp and did not play at all in the preseason or the Nets’ first three games of the regular campaign.
Napier was not offered a new deal by Portland after what was far and away the best year of his carer, in which he set career-highs with 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20.7 minutes per game, while also averaging 2.0 assists a night.
His shooting was also the best it’s been as a pro, as he shot .420/.376/.841 in 74 games, 10 of which he started.
Napier is listed as a point guard, but last season proved proficient playing off the ball when paired with All-Star Damian Lillard in the Blazer backcourt when coach Terry Stotts attempted to stagger the rest periods for Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The injury news is less cheerful for rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, who exited Saturday night’s loss at Indiana early in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle. He was hurt rolling the ankle over the foot of teammate Ed Davis while on defense.
Atkinson indicated Kurucs is day-to-day and is not as likely as Hollis-Jefferson or Napier in terms of availability.
Kurucs downplayed the ailment, telling Brian Lewis of the New York Post:
"“All good. Just sprained. I just stepped on Ed’s foot, I think. I just sprained it. I’ve sprained it a lot of times, so it’s not that bad.”"
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Kurucs has been a revelation from his position at No. 40 overall in the June NBA Draft, earning regular rotation minutes right out of the gate with his effort and enthusiasm.
He’s averaging 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in just 14.3 minutes per game, shooting 9-of-19 overall, going 4-for-10 from long range and making all four of his free throw attempts.
As for swingman Treveon Graham, who had been taking some minutes at the power forward spot with Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll both out, Atkinson said it will be some time before we see Graham on the floor.
He was helped off the court after straining his left hamstring in Friday’s win over the Knicks. Graham has proven a capable defender at multiple positions. In 27 minutes over Brooklyn’s first two games, he was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting (0-for-2 from deep) and had four rebounds.
Graham shot 41.2 percent from 3-point range last season for the Charlotte Hornets.
As Scotto reported, there was no update on Carroll, who underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right ankle Tuesday and is out indefinitely.