Jarrett Allen is aware of his precarious Nets position

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This isn’t 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 by 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 all of it. 

“At the end of the day, I just try to put it aside. I know it’s big decisions, deciding where I’m playing or deciding whatever happens at the end of the day. It’s all basketball at the end of the day, whether I’m happy about what happens or not happy. It’s all basketball and I’m here to play it.” 

If Allen was unhappy with being benched for DeAndre Jordan last season by then-interim Jacque Vaughn, he didn’t show it. Instead, he used it as motivation to become a better player. 

Jarrett Allen
Jarrett Allen
Getty Images

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

With Jordan (COVID-19) and Nic Claxton (injury) both missing, Allen stepped up as Brooklyn’s only center. He flashed more and made himself a target. He improved as a passer and found shooters in the corners — something that’ll stand him in good stead with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris. 

“Seeing J.A. down there being able to anchor the defense and talk as much as he did, watching the game and talking to him throughout the bubble, it was awesome,” Jordan said. “He really took on that role knowing he was pretty much going to be the only big man down there that we had. But he took it like a pro. 

“I’m glad that he did. He was successful down there, and I’m excited to see what effect it has on this upcoming season.” 

Before this season even starts, the Nets need to make a call on Allen. Last year they handed rookie extensions to Caris LeVert (three years, $52.5 million) and Taurean Prince (two years, $29 million) despite Prince not having not even played a regular-season second for them. Now, how do they feel about Allen? 

The young center has already racked up 20.0 win shares, the most of any player in the 2017 draft class, according to Basketball-Reference. More than Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox (all of whom already got max extensions this offseason) or John Collins (whom Brooklyn reportedly inquired about before last season’s trade deadline). 

The Nets only have until Dec. 21 — the day before the opener — to agree on a rookie extension. And that’s if they don’t trade him in a Harden mega-deal. 

It’s an amount of uncertainty the players are cognizant of, but working through. 

“What am I supposed to say? No?” Allen laughed when asked if they’re aware. “Honestly, we’re building camaraderie. Everyone comes in with a smile on their faces, everybody knows we’re ready to work. There’s rumors floating around there, but that doesn’t change how we treat each other, how the bond we’re trying to build is not stopping our end goal at the end of the day. 

“At this point, anything is in the air. I haven’t been told what is going to happen, I haven’t been told what’s not going to happen. What I have been told is just to get my work in, try to improve my game as much as possible and get ready for the season coming up.”