EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Avery Johnson says there's a "50-50" chance Troy Murphy will make his Nets debut on Wednesday against the Bobcats.
Murphy, who has been sidelined for all of the preseason with a lower back injury, made it through his second full practice on Tuesday by Johnson's count. Johnson will wait to see how Murphy feels on Wednesday morning before deciding on his status for the Charlotte game.
The Nets (2-1) acquired Murphy in a four-team deal in August. He missed the entire preseason with what the team termed a lower-back strain.
Joe Smith has started in place of Murphy with Kris Humphries and rookie Derrick Favors also seeing time at power-forward.
"I think we're getting alot at the power forward position," said Murphy.
The Sparta, N.J. native will certainly help the Nets spread the floor; he has averaged 12.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game over his nine-year career while shooting 40 percent from behind the arc.
Murphy said on Tuesday that he is still feeling soreness, but he indicated that it was the result of weight-lifting and not anything he'd done on the basketball court.
Johnson told the Nets to challenge Murphy in practice on Tuesday and the former Pacer and Golden State Warrior said his body responded well to the physical play.
"Avery doesnt really let anybody really get away with an easy practice," Murphy said. "It was a good tough practice and ... but I felt good."
By Johnson's count, Murphy made it through his second full practice on Tuesday. Johnson previously stated that he'd like to see Murphy get through three to five practices before he suits up for New Jersey.
"He did everything today. We'll se how he recovers and see how he continues to progress," said Johnson, who traditionally takes a cautious approach with injured players.
In addition to bringing a "high basketball IQ" to the court, Johnson said the 30-year-old Murphy brings "stability" to the Nets lineup.
Johnson has yet to decide how he will divide the minutes at power-forward when Murphy returns.
Expect Favors (10.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg) to continue to get 20 minutes a night, even if he flashes the inconsistency that's to be expected of a 19-year-old rookie.
So Johnson's decision will come down to whether to cut into the playing time of Smith (0.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg) who's started all three games but is playing just seven minutes per, or Humphries, who's scoring five points and pulling down two rebounds in 20 minutes per game.