Nash, unconcerned after Harris, ruled Curry out for the opener vs. Pelicans – The Mercury News

That injury bug that plagued the Nets pretty much all of last season has followed them into another new year with championship aspirations.

After missing the Nets’ last three preseason games, starting shooting guard Joe Harris will miss Wednesday’s season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans with what the team is calling soreness in his left foot, which underwent two surgical procedures last season.

Sharpshooter Seth Currywho did not play in any preseason games, will also miss the opener, who is working to get his left ankle in a better place after offseason arthroscopic surgery.

Both will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

That means the Nets will be without their top two shooters to start the season. For reference, Harris ranks first and Curry second in three-point percentage over the past five seasons.

Head coach Steve Nash said there was no setback that caused the team to rule Harris out for Wednesday’s opener, though Harris appeared to have turned a corner and told ESPN he was optimistic he would play against the Pelicans .

“He’s actually feeling a lot better and really turning a corner, but it wasn’t enough time,” Nash said after practice at the HSS Training Facility in Industry City on Sunday. “So he will start to step up and take part in more contact and we will give you an update on Thursday.”

Neither Harris nor Curry have participated in five-on-five, and Nash said neither got any reps during Sunday’s practice, although Curry has played four-on-four, “so he’s had a glimpse, then he had a couple of days free, and now he is rebuilding.”

Nash said he’s not worried, rather he’s “positive” and “optimistic” because for Harris, foot soreness was expected after two left ankle surgeries a few months apart; and for Curry, the offseason surgery was a last-ditch effort to address a lingering ankle problem.

Nash said hiccups were expected in the recovery for both, especially for Harris, whose appearance in the preseason opener was the first game he played since he originally sprained his ankle in Oklahoma City on Nov. 14.

“It’s well within the normal range for guys to have hiccups after surgery,” Nash said. “It’s just not straight forward, guys coming back from surgery and assimilating back to playing. It’s not always straight forward. Sometimes you go through some adjustment issues.

“I think the two [Harris and Curry] face it more than [the idea of the proverbial] emergency lights are on and we are worried. I think we feel like it’s all part of them coming back to it.”

Nash has started Royce O’Neale instead of Harris and has given second-year guard Cam Thomas minutes in place of Curry throughout the preseason. He suggested the preseason trend continuing into the season opener is “a pretty good generalization,” meaning O’Neale should start on Wednesday and Thomas, who is toward the bottom of the depth chart, when the team is fully healthy , should see extended playing time.

“Royce is such an intelligent player, unselfish player with complete awareness of who he is, what he’s doing, and that just makes it a perfect fit for our guys,” Nash said. “He was able to lead and direct on the floor, he knows how to make sacrifices for teammates who are higher volume players, and just that awareness and IQ is very important.”

O’Neale said he never expected to start on opening night, but he knows he fits well with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton.

“Whether I started or came off the bench, I still wanted to be the player I am: bring a lot of energy, offensively and defensively, and do what I have to do,” O’Neale said. “These guys make the game easier for me. And I’m trying to make the game easier for them. They’re creators who knock down open shots and create for them. I just think everyone reading off each other has been great.”

Nash also said reserve combo guard Edmond Sumner “has a chance” to play in the season opener after dealing with a hip strain that kept him out of the final two preseason games.

“I think he had a couple of reps today,” Nash said. “He’s going to do some five-on-five the next few days and see if he can handle it.”


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