Joe Harris’ ankle recovery ‘trickier’ than Nets thought

CHICAGO — Joe Harris still isn’t practicing, and his recovery from ankle surgery has taken longer and been more complex than the Nets anticipated.

“Yeah I think it’s been trickier than we thought,” coach Steve Nash admitted Wednesday before the Nets faced the Bulls. “But if we know one thing about Joe, he’s going to do everything possible and be back as soon as he possibly can.”

James Harden (left knee hyperextension), Kyrie Irving (left ankle sprain) and Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightness) also were all questionable for the game Wednesday. But those are short-term issues, while Harris’ long-term absence is getting more concerning by the week.

Harris hasn’t played since a Nov. 14 win at Oklahoma City in which he hurt his ankle. He eventually had surgery on Nov. 29. The initial time frame for his return was four to eight weeks, but right now he’s not even cleared to practice.

“Yeah so I think he’s … he’s not full [ramp-up mode],” Nash said. “He’s not fully cleared to do everything yet. He’s got to get back to that, and he’s got to get his high-intensity stuff in. So, he’s not there yet.”

Joe Harris
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LaMarcus Aldridge (right foot soreness) was also out for the Nets. … Undrafted rookie David Duke Jr. had started the Nets’ previous four games.

“It’s been really good. I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been developing in areas that I wouldn’t normally get if I was sitting out,” he said. “The coaching staff has believed in me.”

Patty Mills has shot just 9-for-40 overall in his last five games.

Fatigue has played a factor. He came into Wednesday averaging 31.0 minutes, 6.2 more per game than last season and 5.3 over his career-high from 2017-18.

“I think so,” Nash said when asked if the workload has hurt Mills’ shooting. “The guy plays so hard, he flies around out there, both ends of the floor. He’s played more minutes he’s ever played. … So his workload has probably been too high. But man, he’s so important to us, regardless of whether he’s making shots or not.”

When the Nets host Oklahoma City on Thursday, it will mark Mills’ first home game against Thunder rookie Josh Giddey, his Australian national team teammate.

“I’m very proud of Giddey’s development over the over the years,” Mills told The Post. “So I’m just really pleased with the opportunity that he’s had and he’s making the most of it.”

Both trained at the Australian Institute of Sport when they were in high school, and were coached by Marty Clarke (Mills at St. Mary’s, Giddey at NBA Global Academy).

“He’s more than happy to help the next guy, whether it’s Giddey or whether it’s any other players here. We often ask him to talk to a young guy, give him some information over the phone or whatever, and he’ll always say yes,” Clarke told The Post via phone. “When he comes back to practice, he’ll bring a young guy into practice and help him out. So I’ve got no doubt he’s doing the same with Josh.”

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