The Nets are anxious to find out how all their new pieces fit together in an actual game.
Their first chance to do so will happen without the most important one.
Kyrie Irving will not play in Friday’s preseason opener against Brazilian team Sesi/Franca at Barclays Center, coach Kenny Atkinson confirmed Wednesday. The point guard participated in the Nets’ scrimmage Wednesday, but they will play it safe Friday as he recovers from a facial fracture he suffered last week.
“I’d say there’s push more from our side, coaching staff and performance, just being cautious and smart about his buildup,” Atkinson said.
While Irving’s debut will have to wait, Atkinson said he was encouraged by how he has taken charge in camp early on — his first full practice being Tuesday.
“He’s gonna be the quarterback and has picked up the plays, picked up our defensive system kind of seamlessly,” Atkinson said. “Very pleased so far.”
Whenever Irving is ready to play in games, Atkinson is looking forward to seeing how Irving’s teammates play around him.
“It’s interesting to see how each player reacts,” Atkinson said. “Yeah, that’s part of this discovery journey we’re on and seeing how they all interact. So far it’s been really good. The fear when you bring in a great player is people are going to defer too much. So, I haven’t seen that. And I think Kyrie’s done a good job of making sure they don’t defer.”
Atkinson was not ready to rule out any other players for Friday’s exhibition. GM Sean Marks said they would be careful with Joe Harris’ workload, after he played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, but Harris said he didn’t know the plan for Friday yet.
“I’m doing whatever they tell me to do,” Harris said. “It’s a long season, so if they want me to play 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever it is, I’m ready to go regardless.”
The Nets will play their next two preseason games after Friday in China. It will be Harris’ second trip there in as many months, after the country hosted the World Cup.
“Round two,” Harris said. “I’ll be the tour guide when we get out there.”