LaMarcus Aldridge expected to miss another week, opens door for Nic Claxton

LaMarcus Aldridge Nic Claxton
LaMarcus Aldridge
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

LaMarcus Aldridge has already missed six games with a right hip impingement and it appears he’ll miss the upcoming week of games as well.

The Nets big man is expected to be out for Brooklyn’s upcoming games against the Utah Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat, head coach Steve Nash said on Sunday after practice. Aldridge hasn’t been on the court since March 6 in Boston when he suffered the injury.

“I think next week. Yeah, I think he’s got another week out,” Nash said when asked about Aldridge’s status.

[READ: Nets well aware of importance of upcoming stretch as they push towards postseason]

After that meeting with the Celtics at TD Garden, Aldridge returned to New York to undergo an MRI. He missed the remainder of that Nets road trip and then was ruled out for this past week as well. The Nets have had to continue to deal with injuries even after they saw the return of Kevin Durant last month.

Losing Aldridge for the fourth time this season — he was out in December due to COVID then missed time in January and February because of a separate foot and ankle injury — hurts Brooklyn, but opens the door for Nic Claxton to see increased playing time.

Claxton has had an up and down season, to say the least. He saw very few minutes early in the year and then found himself in the lineup regularly as COVID decimated the Nets’ roster.

Nic Claxton
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

However, that changed again as players started to return and rumors of a possible trade involving Claxton made their way into the media.  Claxton ultimately wasn’t traded, but the addition of Andre Drummond made it tough for him to get back into the lineup regularly.

Now Claxton has now averaged 22.9 minutes a game since Aldridge was sidelined earlier this month.

“When we traded for Drummond, I thought I was getting traded,” Claxton admitted. “But I ended up staying, so I was happy to ride along and stay here. I just gotta, like I always say, just stay the course, no matter if all three of our guys are healthy or whatever minutes I get. I just gotta be the best version of myself for our team.”

Claxton had been aware of the rumors that he was going to be dealt, he said after Sunday’s practice in Brooklyn. He told reporters that you “hear certain things” but that he was happy to still be in Brooklyn.

The 22-year-old has put up an average 9.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 rebounds in the six games Aldridge has missed. He also played 20-plus minutes in all but one of those game, though he’d like to get himself to a point where he can play more minutes with the same jump.

“I think there’s still another step that I can take,” he said. “I’ve been paying around 20-25 minutes. Me being able to play 30, 30-plus minutes, and still having that same burst, I think it’s something that I’m still continuing to work on. working on just getting my extra conditioning in after games and on days like this. I’m still working on it.”