EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Despite losing another injured player, probably for the season, New Jersey Nets general manager Billy King will not make any roster moves and vows that the struggling team will continue to play with the current roster.
King’s declaration comes after the team lost reserve guard Keith Bogans to a broken ankle during Wednesday’s loss to Detroit. Bogans was just signed as a free agent two weeks ago, but his broken ankle will require surgery on Monday, more than likely ending his season.
“I don’t expect to bring anyone else in,” King said in a Friday morning conference call. “I don’t think we’ll waive anyone to create a spot. We have 15 guaranteed spots on the roster and we’ll go from there. I’m OK with the roster.”
There was some good news on the injury front. Rookie guard MarShon Brooks, fresh off being named to the Rising Stars Rookie/Sophomore Challenge as part of NBA All-Star weekend, has improved dramatically over the last two days in his recovery from a broken right pinky toe.
“MarShon’s status has changed and he’s progressed faster than anyone thought,” King said. “He’ll now be a game-time decision (for Friday night’s game at the Detroit Pistons). Earlier in the week, we weren’t sure, but he’s much better. A lot of it is his tolerance for pain, but he’s progressing nicely.”
Brooks, one of the bright spots in the Nets’ dismal 8-19 season, was averaging 14.8 points per game before his injury two weeks ago, second among NBA rookies. King said that the injury to Bogans had nothing to do with Brooks’ return. The Nets have lost four in a row.
“The big thing is how you recover,” King said. “Even if Keith was still playing, we’d bring MarShon back. It would be foolish to rush a kid if he’s not ready. But we think he’s ready.”
King also thinks that reserve forward/guard DeShawn Stevenson might be ready for a return shortly. Stevenson has been hobbled for the last two weeks with a sore knee, but has been working out with the team in pregame shootarounds.
However, there is nothing to report in terms of center Brook Lopez. Lopez, who suffered a broken foot in the final game of the preseason, requiring surgery, is in the seventh week of a recovery that was initially said to be up to eight weeks.
“He’s been following the rehab,” King said of Lopez, who averaged 20 points per game last season. “He’s doing a little bit more and taking part in shootarounds. But his progression is the same. We have no timetable on when he’ll be back on the court.
“He’s on schedule, but we’ll see how he feels.”
A reporter asked if Lopez could return to practice next week.
“Right now,” King said, “I doubt it.”
After the Nets lost Lopez, King acquired veteran and former All-Star center Mehmet Okur in a trade, even though Okur played in just 13 games for the Utah Jazz last year after injuring his Achilles tendon.
Okur has now been out of action with the Nets for eight consecutive games with back spasms and soreness. He underwent an epidural medical procedure earlier in the week to try to alleviate the pain, but his status is also unknown.
“We’ll increase his activity Sunday and Monday and see where he stands,” King said. “He’s getting better every day. He’s going to be back. It’s not a situation where he’s done. We’re just being extra careful with him. When we added Okur, it was to add to our depth. I still think he’s going to help us.”
The team already lost small forward Damion James to foot surgery. He’s out for the season.
“The injuries have been the underlining theme all season,” King said. “Our team has battled and played hard. We’ve managed to use the short amount of practice to try to improve. The guys in uniform are giving everything they can and that’s all we can ask for. It’s the nature of the sport. We’re not saying, ‘Woe, me,’ It’s just how you deal with it. We can’t sit around and mope.
“It is what it is.”
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