After being surprisingly healthy during last season’s breakthrough season, the Nets’ Nic Claxton admitted how frustrating his ankle injury was, which sidelined him longer than he expected.
“It was frustrating, especially the injury in the first game of the season and even the way I did it. But things are moving forward. “I’m just trying to keep myself in a good position every day and continue to support my teammates,” said Claxton, who hasn’t played since the opening loss to Cleveland.
“After a few days… I saw that it was taking a little longer than I expected and everyone expected. Like I said, it’s frustrating, but it’s an 82-game season. So what can you do? I won’t put myself in danger. I just take it day by day.”
In Claxton’s absence, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Dorian Finney-Smith started all five games as a small-ball center.
Neither Claxton nor coach Jacque Vaughn had an expected return date for the former.
“No setbacks for Nic. We just kept seeing what happened next. He will continue to be day by day. That’s just part of his makeup, how he looks and how he presents himself on a daily basis,” Vaughn said.
Saturday night’s game against visiting Boston — the league’s only undefeated team after its 124-114 win over the Nets — was the fifth straight game he has missed with a sprained left ankle.
The Nets’ starting center suffered the injury in the regular-season opener against Cleveland due to an incorrect play and limped for the remainder of the game.
“Yeah, I just landed. I just came down. “I didn’t land on anyone’s foot, I just landed kind of weird and it just changed,” Claxton remembers. “It was pretty painful. I ended up playing the rest of the game, but I got pretty tied up.”
Claxton is listed with an ankle sprain, but the 24-year-old clarified that it was a severe ankle sprain, the higher the worse, in layman’s terms.
Recovery times can range from weeks to months, even though he hasn’t worn hiking boots for days.
“I’m training again, so we’ll see,” Claxton said. “It’s a severe ankle sprain. I don’t know if any of you have ever dealt with a high ankle sprain. It’s my first time, it’s not fun. It’s about pain tolerance, it’s about just being mentally good. You don’t want to find yourself in a bad situation, especially at the start of the season.
“So I just take it day by day.”
After being plagued by injuries and lagging in his development early in his career, Claxton finally stayed healthy and had a great season a year ago.
Of the six games he missed, only one was due to injury.
After leading the league with 254 steals plus blocks last season, Claxton spoke openly in training camp about pursuing a career All-Defense selection or even Defensive Player of the Year.
Instead, Claxton has missed five times in a row, and it’s conceivable that he’ll miss more.
The Nets host Milwaukee on Monday, and he has yet to fully participate in a shootaround or pregame practice.
Still, he’s out of the boot, icing his ankle regularly, doing physical therapy and happy to be back in Brooklyn after the long, nine-day, four-game road trip.
“I’m so happy to be home again. “It was a crazy road trip to start the season,” Claxton said. “Like you said, it’s just good to have everything in-house. Not being in hotel rooms, going to different gyms, having everything here and being able to just go home and sleep in your own bed. It’s good for the mental, the physical. So I hope to be back out there soon.”