Tony Brown preaches caution with Nets rookie Chris McCullough


On a Brooklyn Nets team nearly devoid of healthy young players, the debut of their youngest player is a bright light in an otherwise dark season.

But interim head coach Tony Brown hopes that fans don’t prematurely throw a halo over Chris McCullough’s head any time soon.

“I’m going to be cautious with him,” Brown said before the Nets took on the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night. McCullough was ruled inactive. “I’m not just going to throw him out there. … I don’t want this whole Chris McCullough thing to get so big that everybody wants to see him play. I’m not going to play him until I feel comfortable with him on the floor. I don’t want to embarrass him. I want to make sure that he understands what we’re doing.”

McCullough will technically join the team’s active list this weekend, but will not play, The Brooklyn Game has learned. The hope — and possibly expectation — is that McCullough will make his playing debut Monday night against the Denver Nuggets.

But that timeline has fluctuated as the date has gotten closer, and there’s still no guarantee for any specific date, though Brown said he’d “definitely” be available by the end of the All-Star break.

“You have to understand, this kid has had a major knee surgery,” Brown added. “You don’t want to rush him back. You want to make sure physically he’s comfortable with what he’s doing out on the court.”

The 6’9″ forward recently returned to Nets practices, and has also been working out with coaches on off days, Brown said.

The Nets drafted McCullough, who has been recovering since last January from an ACL injury he sustained in his freshman year at Syracuse, with the 29th overall pick in the 2015 draft. The general sense around the league is that McCullough could have gone much higher in the draft had he stayed healthy; he only played 16 games at Syracuse before tearing his ACL.