Jarrett Allen aware of his precarious position in the Nets

It’s not just a huge season for Nets center Jarrett Allen, but a pivotal month.

Allen may get his first real shot at a title. But he’s also competing against the veteran he was benched for last season, waiting to see if he gets a contract extension before the deadline, and finds his name in James Harden trade rumors.

Welcome to training camp, young man.

“You definitely see it,” Allen, 22, admitted Wednesday. “I definitely see everything: I know what’s going on, I’m aware of it all.

“At the end of the day, I just try to put that aside. I know these are big decisions, deciding where I play or deciding what happens at the end of the day. Everything is basketball at the end of the day whether I’m happy with what’s going on or not. It’s basketball and I’m here to play it.

If Allen wasn’t happy about being benched for DeAndre Jordan last season by interim then-acting Jacque Vaughn, he hasn’t shown it. Instead, he used it as motivation to become a better player.

Jarrett Allen
Jarrett Allen
Getty Images

“I don’t want anything. It just happened: it was the best for the team, ”Allen said. “In the bubble, I wanted to show that I wanted to be a starter again and that I was definitely capable of playing against playoff level teams, against any competition.

With Jordan (COVID-19) and Nic Claxton (injury) both missing, Allen has become Brooklyn’s only center. He flashed more and made himself a target. He’s improved as a passer and found shooters in the corners – which will set him up well with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris.

“Seeing JA out there being able to anchor the defense and talk as much as him, watch the game and talk to him throughout the bubble, that was great,” Jordan said. “He really took on that role knowing he was going to be pretty much the only great man we had out there. But he took it like a pro.

“I’m glad he did. He’s been successful there, and I’m excited to see what effect that will have on this coming season.

Before this season even begins, the Nets have to call on Allen. Last year, they handed rookie extensions to Caris LeVert (three-year-old, $ 52.5 million) and Taurean Prince (two-year, $ 29 million), though Prince didn’t even play a second in the regular season for them. Now what do they think of Allen?

The young center has already racked up 20.0 victory shares, the most players in the 2017 draft class, according to Basketball-Reference. More than Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox (all of whom have already secured maximum extensions this offseason) or John Collins (whom Brooklyn reportedly requested information from before last season’s trade deadline).

The Nets only have until December 21 – the day before the opener – to agree on a rookie overtime. And that’s if they don’t trade it into a Harden mega-deal.

It’s an amount of uncertainty that players are aware of, but are working through.

“What am I supposed to say?” No? Allen laughed when asked if they knew about it. “Honestly, we build camaraderie. Everyone arrives with a smile on their face, everyone knows that we are ready to work. There are rumors going around out there, but it doesn’t change the way we treat each other, how the bond we’re trying to build doesn’t stop our end goal at the end of the day.

“At this point it’s all in the air. I was not told what was going to happen, I was not told what would not happen. What I was told is just to do my job, try to improve my game as much as possible and prepare for the season ahead.

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