Nets' Warren (foot) back after nearly 2 years out

by Gordon Dixon - Brooklyn Nets forward T.J. Warren, who hasn't played since Dec. 29, 2020, said he was "super excited" to make his long-awaited return to action Friday night against the Raptors.

Nets' T.J. Warren returns from injury after nearly 2 years out 7:32 PM ET Nick FriedellESPN Staff Writer Close Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009. NEW YORK -- For the first time in almost two years, Brooklyn Nets swingman T.J. Warren is ready to play on an NBA floor again. Warren, who hasn't played since Dec. 29, 2020, as a member of the Indiana Pacers , will return Friday night against the Toronto Raptors after enduring several surgeries on his left foot and an arduous rehab schedule. "It feels like a surreal moment," Warren said before Friday's game. "It's been a long process, a very long one, and to be able to get to this day means a lot. So I'm just super, super excited to complete all the obstacles, all the uncertainty and unknowns. But it feels good to be to this point for sure." Nets coach Jacque Vaughn and Warren's teammates have been waiting for this moment for a while. Vaughn said that the group poked some good-natured fun at Warren during Friday's shootaround, given how long he has been away from the game. "Just getting him back on the floor, I think that's the goal of the night," Vaughn said. "And just having him play and be around his teammates. I think we have to be smart in expectations, what that looks like. What his minutes look like, what his wind looks like. but I think the goal is just to see him in a uniform and playing and excited about basketball again." For Warren, being back on the floor will be "like riding a bike for me." He knows he will be limited in his minutes, but he is looking forward to playing in real games again. Vaughn said the Nets would use Warren with Nets star forward Kevin Durant for a stretch and for a stretch without Durant as they work to find Warren's place in the rotation. During his nearly two-year stretch away from the game, Warren said he worked on some other aspects of the game off the floor. "Working on my mental health as well," Warren said. "Just being away from a game that you've been doing for 20-plus years. And for it to be taken away from you is definitely an eye-opener. It made me just look myself in the mirror and realize that one day the ball can stop bouncing, so it just put things in perspective in that way."