Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Nets General Manager Billy King addressed the media for better than nine minutes on Friday evening before his team hosted the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center. Within a bevy of topics covered by King, one key factor stood out.
Deron Williams (synovitis in both ankles) and Joe Johnson (plantar fasciitis), King’s $190 million backcourt, are both dealing with nagging injuries that have the potential to linger as the NBA schedule heads into the stretch run through March and April.
With the Nets at 33-22 entering Friday night, the Nets are just one game behind the first-place Knicks in the Atlantic Division and are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Long story short, those two lingering, nagging injuries have the potential to be a real problem for a team whose billionaire owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, said back in November that a reasonable expectation for this team would be the Eastern Conference Finals.
Williams and Johnson lead the team in minutes per game at 38 and 36.6, respectively.
“We’ve got 20-something games to play, if I knew that, I’d be in Vegas,” King quipped when asked if he’s confident his backcourt would be healthy for the playoffs. “I like our depth, I like our size, I like our playoff experience, so I think everything looks good on paper. We just have to play the 27 games and see how it unfolds.”
Williams revealed on Friday morning at shootaround that he had a third set of cortisone injections in his ankles on Thursday in an attempt to relieve the inflammation. While it was known Williams was receiving cortisone injections on Thursday, it was not known beforehand that it would be the third time.
Johnson’s injury came more out of nowhere. King was on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Friday afternoon, at which time he spilled the beans that Johnson began feeling the pain after a game at the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday and would sit on Friday. With the media on Friday evening, King clarified that Johnson has plantar fasciitis, he is on medication, is day-to-day and will most likely play on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“It will be a concern for two obvious reasons. One, he’s such a good player and two, we play him so many minutes,” Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Johnson. “He’s such a crucial player that to sit him out will have an impact on our team over an extended period of time. You may dodge a bullet for a game or two, but if you sit him out for a while, it’s gonna be a problem. I have no idea if that will even be a discussion.
Williams’ revelation of a third set of cortisone shots and Johnson’s injury on Friday were just part of a whirlwind couple of days that included the NBA trade deadline coming and going at 3 p.m. on Thursday without the Nets making a move.
This season, the Nets were painted as buyers on the trade market as opposed to last season when the Nets, in the middle of another lost season in New Jersey, were potential sellers, especially with Williams in the final year of his previous contract.
“Last year, there was a lot more outbound calls and this year was more inbound,” King said. “There’s nothing else that people can say about it, it’s just about basketball, there’s nothing I can do to the roster right now.”
The Nets have an open roster spot to play with it. The Nets will likely wait until March 1 to see who gets waived before deciding what to do with the spot, if anything at all.
King also noted he did not consider ex-Net Kenyon Martin, who signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks on Thursday afternoon once the trade deadline passed.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA