If Mehmet Okur was caught by surprise and unsure how to respond to being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Nets, his sister, Seda, had no such ambivalence. “Oh yeah, she was excited,” Okur said today of his sister, who lives in New York City. “When I called her, she couldn’t believe it for like five minutes. She said, ‘Mehmet, I need to call you back. Give me like five minutes. I want to catch my breath!’ “I was like, ‘Take your time. Don’t pass out,’ ” Okur said with a smile. “She was excited.”
Okur practiced with the Nets for the first time today as the team worked together for the last time before it opens the season Monday night in Washington against the Wizards.
He arrived in New Jersey around 1 a.m. today, after being traded to the Nets on Thursday night for a second-round pick in 2015.
“He looked good … for getting in at 1 o’clock last night and the fact that he just got traded and had to leave his family,” point guard Deron Williams, Okur’s former teammate in Utah, said. “He’s picking things up real quick — he’s got a high basketball IQ, so it’s going to come easy for him.”
Coach Avery Johnson said it will probably take Okur “a week or two to get in sync with what we’re doing.” But as the coach pointed out, the Nets don’t have that kind of time — not only do they go live Monday against John Wall and the Wizards, but they open the season with six games in eight nights, which means no practice time for Okur to learn the Nets’ offense.
Fortunately, Okur has some familiarity with some teammates, at least. He played with Williams in Utah for more than five seasons, and also played with Sundiata Gaines with the Jazz.
Okur was acquired to help fill the void left by Brook Lopez, who had surgery Friday to repair a stress fracture in his right foot suffered in Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Knicks. The team estimated Lopez would be out six to eight weeks.
Okur himself is coming off an injury-plagued season in 2010-11, where he was plagued by back problems caused by a too-early return from a ruptured Achilles.
He was limited to just 13 games, and averaged 4.9 points. But he said he is healthy now, and doesn’t see any reason why he can’t bounce back and be the 17.6-ppg player he was when he was an All-Star in 2006-07.
“Why not? If you look at Deron and some other guys — Deron, especially, he had a lot to do with me being an All-Star, along with (then-Jazz coach) Jerry Sloan,” Okur said. “So this is going to be another opportunity for me to play with him and some other good players.”
Johnson on Linwood native Dennis Horner, who made the team after coming up from the D-League for training camp: “Dennis knows every play; he was in the right spots at the right time; he made shots … in practice. He had a lot of hustle plays, just diving on the floor. He set good screens. You know, he’s not a big guy, for a (power forward), but he set good screens. He was early … everything that a professional player, NBA player that’s trying to make a team (needs to do), he did it.”
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07
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