When Paul Millsap went down injured in Denver last season, Kenneth Faried saw his minutes jump. For a while. He started six games, played with energy and averaged nearly a double-double in those games going 27 minutes a night, and he played with his trademark hustle and grit. It didn’t work for coach Mike Malone and soon Faried was buried on the bench again, playing a career low in games and minutes.
When Faried was traded to the Nets this summer, it was a seen as a salary dump by Denver — and it was for them, they get off the $13.8 million he is owed this season.
But for Faried, this is a chance to prove he can still impact the game given a chance. Don’t use the past tense around Faried, as he noted in his introductory press conference in Brooklyn, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
“Hey, I never stopped being the player I am. There’s no ‘were,’ ” the 28-year-old Faried said Wednesday as he was introduced at the team’s Brooklyn training facility.
“The Nuggets wanted to go in a different direction. Brooklyn decided, ‘Hey, let’s pick up a still-able, still-capable player who can go out and produce and lead a team and do the things he’s done before.’ … They believed in me, took this chance to trade for me, and I’m excited to be here and produce.”
He can carve out a role with the Nets. Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis will split the bulk of the minutes at center, and at the four there will be Rondae Hollis-Jefferson starting and then Jared Dudley and Faried. The “Manimal” should be able to get some run and prove his worth in a contract year.
But both Faried and Dudley are also there to mentor young players. Faried said he is ready for that.
“The intangible things I do, I want to rub off on my teammates. My energy is contagious, so my energy when I was in the game doing the things I did [was] contagious around the whole team, the stadium. That’s why when you hear ‘We want Manimal!’ back when I was in Denver, or fans chanting ‘We Want Manimal,’ it’s for a reason: Because I bring that energy and that’s what I plan to do here.”
The Nets are still rebuilding, they are not going to be a powerhouse team by any stretch next season. But Brooklyn is going to be improved (and last season it were already better than expected). It’s a process, but the Nets are finally moving in the right direction under GM Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson, and Faried can be part of that transition.