Nets’ TJ Warren on track with rehab after foot surgery
The Nets have five players who have just had surgery of some kind. Three have already adapted and Seth Curry is not far behind.
TJ Warren is the last, but he wants to prove that he is certainly not the least. The oft-injured forward is returning from surgery for consecutive stress fractures in his left foot and was a low-risk, high-reward flyer as a Nets free agent.
“I do everything I can. The training staff have been great and I love my progress. I’m on the right track, so I’m excited about it,” said Warren, who has basically missed the past two seasons.
Nets coach Steve Nash said the wing would be reassessed next month, and Warren himself only said he was making progress.
« I’m just excited to be back there, » he said. « It’s been so long. So this [is] really exciting to do what I love to do. And I can’t wait. I could just feel that itch. But [right now] we are here to talk about the community and the basketball stuff, it will come.
The community event was Warren distributing the non-profit Wellfare “Eat & Move Better boxes” to families in need in Bushwick on Saturday afternoon.
The 29-year-old veteran was born in North Carolina, played college ball at North Carolina State and spent his entire NBA career playing for Phoenix and Indiana, so coming to Brooklyn was an adjustment. . But it was Nets orthopedic specialist Dr. Martin O’Malley who performed Warren’s operation, so there was an extra layer of familiarity – on both sides – for a player getting back into shape and a team taking a risk.
“Absolutely, there is definitely a level of comfort [with] O’Malley actually being the team doctor here,” Warren said. « And he’s seen it all since day one, it’s kind of like I have peace of mind knowing he’s in my corner here. »
Ben Simmons, Edmond Sumner and Joe Harris have all played this season after returning from surgeries, and Curry is only a few practices away, according to Nash. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Warren is a little more of an unknown quantity.
The skilled wing averaged nearly 19.3 points over three combined seasons for the Suns and Pacers from 2017-20, but recorded just four appearances in 2020-21 and missed all of last season. He reportedly struggled with plantar fasciitis and ended up needing two surgeries to repair stress fractures, the last by Dr O’Malley.
The Nets, clearly keeping abreast of Warren’s situation and recovery prospects, handed him a low-risk minimum contract on July 7.
Warren had been among the best players in the NBA bubble in the summer of 2020, averaging 31.0 points on 0.578% shooting, 52.4% from behind the arc and 88.9% from the charity strip – and 6.3 rebounds in six ranking games.
He backed that up with 20.0 points and 6.3 boards in Indiana’s 2021 playoff series against Miami. He’s a three-tiered scorer who could thrive in an offense with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Even if he never quite regains his peak form, a healthy Warren on the bench would help the Nets on the wing. But on Saturday, he was more focused on helping the Brooklyn community.
« As I said before, this is my first [opportunity] do something like that, so I really want to do more in the community. To definitely be able to show my face as Brooklyn Net, to show that it’s real, to be able to represent Brooklyn as a culture as a community, that’s a good thing to do,” Warren said.
“I’m an East Coast kid, so I’ve been here my whole life. I remember playing tournaments here Rumble in the Bronx, different types. Yeah, I’ve been coming here for a while, so I kind of got the fast pace. It’s like a hoop paradise here. They love their hoops in New York.