NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The question about buying a home in New Jersey made Nets’ point guard Devin Harris chuckle.
“I rent in New Jersey,” a smiling Harris said.
There is good reason. Harris spent most of the summer being a part of trade rumors that had the former All Star being shipped somewhere. The most prominent rumor was Harris being traded to Charlotte as part of a multi-team deal that would bring Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets to the Nets.
The rumors came and went and Harris stayed. He spent Monday practicing with the Nets for their regular-season opener against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at the Prudential Center.
“That’s over and done with,” Harris said. “I am just focused on the present right now. There are other things we can control. Obviously it won’t be the last time we hear it, but I am just focused on getting this team off to a good start.”
The Nets come into the season with a totally new look. There are only four players left from last season’s franchise-worst 12-70 team and the ownership, front office and coach have all changed, too.
“Forgive, forget, and be ready to move on,” Harris said when asked about last season’s debacle that saw the team open with an NBA-record 18 straight losses.
There was a lot that the 27-year-old Harris would like to forget about 2009-10, a season that saw him go from an All Star to an average player on a bad team.
Harris averaged 21.3 points, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals in making the Eastern Conference All-Star roster as a reserve for the 2009 game. His averages slipped to 13.0 points, 4.7 assists and 1.2 steals in an injury plagued season that saw him appear in 64 games.
His goal already for this season is 82.
“We’re ready to roll,” Harris said after Monday’s practice. “Today was a good practice. We made great lengths tuning up our offensive stuff and defensively we’re getting better each and every day. We have a little more work to do but I think we are ready to roll.”
The Nets probably will be without veteran power forward Troy Murphy for the season opener. He missed the entire preseason with a back problem. He expects to return to practice on Tuesday, but new coach Avery Johnson does not plan to use him until he takes part in three full workouts.
Either veteran Joe Smith or Kris Humphries will start at the power forward. Johnson said that rookie Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick overall in the draft, will begin the season off the bench.
The rest of the starting lineup with have Anthony Morrow at the shooting guard, Travis Outlaw at the small forward and Brook Lopez at center.
Harris likes the lineup, and he thinks Johnson is going to make a difference as the coach, having led Dallas to the NBA Finals in his tenure there.
“He knows what it takes,” Harris said. “He has been there before as a player and as a coach and I think that is a big thing. As a player, he knows what we think, what our bodies are going through. He knows when to call days off and when to push us hard. That’s a part of the recipe. He has a feel for the team and what we need at that point in time.”
Harris also thinks Johnson is a more patient coach since his days in Dallas when he had a veteran team.
“I can tell his different demeanor as far as his patience with younger guys,” Harris said. “I haven’t seen it much before, but I am seeing it now and I think that will be a big part of what we do, his patience. I can see it burning inside of him, but he has to teach first.”
Guard Jordan Farmar, who earned two championship rings with the Lakers before signing with the Nets this summer, said Harris also is doing a good job of trying to lead a young team this season.
“He is not the most vocal guy I have been around, but he is trying to say things when things need to be said and at the same time going out there and playing hard,” Farmar said. “That’s what you want.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.