It may not be deja vu just yet, but news that Joe Harris would miss Wednesday’s Nets season opener is sure to unnerve fans.
Harris and fellow sharpshooter Seth Curry were both ruled out for the season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, had coach Steve Nash told reporters at the team training facility in Brooklyn. Both players will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
The news comes as Harris had been dealing with foot soreness following playing 15 minutes of Brooklyn’s preseason opener two weeks ago. It had marked the first time that Harris had been in a game since he suffered an ankle injury last year that required two surgeries, one that took place in November of 2021 and a second in March.
Nash contended that Harris had been turning a corner and that he would be taking part in more contact.
“It’s just getting out the prior setback where we shut him down for a few days,” Nash responded when asked if there had been another setback.
Curry had indicated that he was 85-90% back when he spoke during the team’s media day in September and there had been some hope that he would get into one of the later preseason games for the Nets. Nash said that he was “maybe a hair behind Joe” when discussing where Curry was in his return.
Harris’ absence opens up the door for Royce O’Neale to jump into the starting lineup for the Nets. The small forward has had a good showing during the preseason and had been the first off the bench during several games.
The Nets coach wouldn’t say that it was a definitive lock that O’Neale would take the starting role, but Nash certainly seemed to be leaning that way just three days shy of the season opener.
“Whether I was starting or coming off the bench, I was always going to be the player I am,” O’Neale said.
Brooklyn is coming into this season trying to prove that they have the pieces to compete for an NBA title this year after falling well short in a drama and injury-filled 2021-22 campaign. The Nets went through a number of changes during the offseason, which included bringing in O’Neale.
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So far he has felt that things had been coming together.
“We all fitting in. New team, so day by day we learn about each other,” O’Neale said. “Building great habits that bleed over to the games from practice.”