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9. New Jersey Nets
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Krstic's return will make the revamped frontcourt whole.
Manny Millan/SI
Fast Fact
In 2006-07 Jason Kidd joined Oscar Robertson (five times) and Magic Johnson (twice) as the only players to average more than nine assists and eight rebounds in the same season. Kidd also had a career-high 12 triple doubles.
Telling Numbers
Record: 41-41 (6th in East)
Points scored: 97.6 (15th in NBA)
Points allowed: 98.3 (13th)
Coach: Lawrence Frank (fifth season with Nets)

A healthy big man is needed to balance the vaunted perimeter attack

No one was more miserable than Nenad Krstic. At least not in the Nets' training camp. During a recent practice, the 7-foot center trudged off the floor, head down, and collapsed into a cushioned folding chair. Krstic's frustration was not borne out of playing poorly in the spirited scrimmage that had just ended, nor was it a result of fatigue from running the series of wind sprints that followed. He was upset because he wasn't able to participate in either activity.

The staff is closely monitoring Krstic as he comes back from a torn left ACL. Before the Dec. 22 injury Krstic, 24, was averaging a career-high 16.4 points. "I was playing well," he says. "When I heard my knee pop, it was like the end of the world."

Well, it was the end of Krstic's season and the beginning of a long rehabilitation process -- one that was derailed for five weeks after he sprained his left knee in early July. "If I hadn't done that," says Krstic. "I would be playing at full speed right now." Krstic began scrimmaging again in early October, but even then his minutes were limited.

When Krstic does return, he will be part of a new-look frontcourt. New Jersey drafted athletic power forward Sean Williams out of Boston College and, after free agent Mikki Moore left for Sacramento, signed former All-Star center Jamaal Magloire to a one-year contract. "Jamaal brings toughness and physicality in the middle," says coach Lawrence Frank. "He's a big brother type who will have the guys' backs."

Frank hopes Krstic will be one of those guys sooner rather than later; in the two-plus seasons before Krstic's injury the Nets were 79-46 when he scored in double figures. But the team will play it safe. "We're not going to bring him back," says Frank, "until we're sure he's not susceptible to another injury." -- Chris Mannix

Issue date: October 29, 2007

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