The Brooklyn Nets point guard who strained his hamstring five games into the season fully practiced with the team for the first time on Friday, December 9, one day before the team was throttled by the San Antonio Spurs 130-101 down in Texas.
Fans were clamoring for Lin’s comeback after his return to full practice, but the Nets continued with the cautionary approach to injuries they’ve adopted for the 2016-17 campaign.
With Lin in the starting line-up, the Nets posted a 2-3 record, and have gotten progressively worse since, struggling at initiating offense, which Lin was brought here to execute, and mainly, stopping teams on the defensive end as the Nets currently allow over 120 points per game.
“We’ll see how he looks tomorrow and get feedback from our medical team and our performance team,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said after practice Friday. “I think he’s thrilled just to be out there, just to mix it up a little bit.”
After three surgeries in three months, Caris LeVert’s future was very much in question, especially as he became NBA Draft eligible this past summer.
While predicted in most mock drafts as a second rounder, even late in some instances, the Nets gambled on the Michigan-alum who was believed to be a lottery level talent, and selected him at number 20 overall with a first-round pick acquired from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Thaddeus Young.
After months of non-stop rehabbing, LeVert practiced in full for the first time in late November, and at last made his NBA debut in a 116-111 win over the Denver Nuggets last week.
In nine minutes, LeVert grabbed four rebounds and recorded three steals. He later scored his first career bucket against the Spurs on Saturday night.
“It felt good, it was my first time playing in a long time in an actual game,” he said after Friday’s practice. “The crowd was great as well, it was a great feeling. The rehab was pretty tough. I’ve been doing it since the draft. So it’s good to see all the hard work paying off. It was kind of frustrating at times but I always saw the end goal.
“The main thing we focused on in my rehab toward the end was conditioning,” LeVert continued. “That’s something that’s not going to stop right now. It was difficult because I wasn’t allowed to run all the time so I had to do like some biking stuff, some underwater stuff, some non-basketball stuff, so it was tough to stay focused on that. You have to put in more work than everyone else because you’ve been out for so long, it’s something that I’m used to now.”
Dinwiddie’s trial by fire
Additionally, the Nets signed combo guard and former Detroit Piston Spencer Dinwiddie at the cost of waiving undrafted rookie Yogi Ferrell, who now suits up for the Long Island Nets in the D League. Dinwiddie practiced on Friday with the team for the first time, and saw some game action on Saturday due to, well, garbage time.
“I kept saying ‘there’s another Sean (Kilpatrick) out there, in the D League,’ there’s no doubt about it,” coach Atkinson told the media after Friday’s practice, referencing breakout star and fellow D League-alum Sean Kilpatrick. “It’s just, can we find that guy? I hope Spencer is that guy.
“It gives us another chance to look at a guy who’s played pretty darn well in the D League,” he continued. “I thought it was a smart move by Sean [Marks] and his group. Spencer’s got a good feel for the game, good I.Q., and it gives us more depth.”
In his 2016-17 season debut with the Nets, the former Colorado University standout logged 10 minutes, scoring six points, dishing out two assists and recording two steals.
Dinwiddie first entered the league as the 38th pick in the 2014 draft, five slots after new teammate Joe Harris, and the same class in which the aforementioned Kilpatrick somehow went undrafted.
“Seeing guys from my draft class like S.K., Joe Harris as well, it gives me a lot of encouragement,” the new Net said after his first practice with the team. “This is a team that said they’ve liked me from the draft process, from my first couple of years in the league, it’s just amazing to be here honestly.
“I’m very blessed for the opportunity,” he added. “I don’t know what the immediate future holds for me as far as ‘role’ or playing time or anything like that, I’m just here to get to work and obviously I want to earn time on the floor.”