Season coming: will Nets be ready?

The Nets are short on time -- and bodies.

Less than a week away from their season-opener, the Nets have plenty of issues. Shawne Williams is battling the flu. Jordan Williams is battling dehydration. Their starting power forward right now is Shelden Williams. And they’re still implementing their offensive and defensive systems. Plus, a daunting schedule -- which features six games in eight nights and 10 of the first 14 on the road -- looms.

“Again, I don’t know if I’m just being too optimistic or too positive, but like I said, this is our team,” coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday. “And when I’m planning, I’m planning our schemes around this team. And because this is our team from an offensive standpoint, we have to get better and more prepared to handle different situations in the game.

“We don't have a lot of margin for error. I don't think we're going to be able to be a basketball team early in the year that's going to be able to play bad and win games. So again, I'm planning on trying to get this team to play at a high level, because this is our team.”

The Nets only have three or four practices remaining. They are likely to do one double session, Johnson said. On Wednesday night in their last preseason game, the Nets coach said he’ll likely go with a nine or nine-and-a-half man rotation -- especially in the first half -- before gauging where his team is.

“Again, they're conditioning and they're working on their conditioning and maybe we need to get in a better physical condition to play a full game, which will cut down on hopefully some of our mental errors,” Johnson said. “So hopefully, shuttle rotation, better physical and mental conditioning, work, hopefully we'll have some better results.”

But seriously, the Nets are thin right now.

“My college coach believed that ultimately you only need seven players, and if you’ve got seven players that are in top shape, you’re in good shape,” Johnson said.

The Nets are fortunate because of a new NBA rule that allows teams to dress and play 13 players through Feb. 6. After that, they can dress 13, but only play 12. Dennis Horner’s chance of making the team certainly increase as a result. Then again, all it takes is one blockbuster trade or free-agent signing to shake everything up ...