Atlanta Hawks Taurean Prince reacts after scoring against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half in a NBA basketball game at State Farm Arena on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Compton
Photo: Compton

Prince asked, Nets answered: Just ‘be yourself’

Following three seasons with the Hawks, the forward was traded to the Nets last month. So Prince asked about his expected role.

“I actually asked them and they just said ‘Be yourself,’” Prince told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday while watching his new team play in the Las Vegas Summer League. “As a basketball player that’s a golden response that you could ever receive from a coach to be yourself and do what you do. As long as I play defense, I will be on the floor.”

Prince can do that. He is back in a familiar system with the Nets, one more like he was in during his first two seasons under coach Mike Budenholzer than last season under Lloyd Pierce. With the Nets, he will play under Kenny Atkinson. He was an assistant with the Hawks as the team went through the draft process to acquire Prince in the first round in 2016 before he took over in Brooklyn.

“I’m glad to be back in a system that allows you to do your thing, as long as you stick to the guidelines defensively and what they are trying to accomplish,” Prince said. “This type of offense allows you to flourish as a basketball player.”

Prince, the No. 12 overall pick out of Baylor, became a starter in his second season, playing and starting in all 82 games in 2017-18. He dealt with an ankle injury last season that limited him to 55 games. Prince has career averages of 11.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in this 196 games. His defensive skills were often utilized to guard the opponent’s best player.

Prince admits to being caught off guard by the trade that sent him and a second-round pick to the Nets in exchange for Allen Crabbe, a 2019 first-round pick and a 2020 first-round pick. The Hawks used that No. 17 pick this year as part of the trade to move up and acquire De’Andre Hunter. It’s not news you necessarily want to receive while headed to the airport, but Prince looks forward to a “New start, new vibes” and new home for his family.

“I’ve been super blessed to even be a Hawk,” Prince said. “They are my family. They accepted me from the moment I stepped foot in Atlanta. I’ll only be thankful. I have only good things to say about the city, ownership, coaches that I’ve had, people that I’ve been around, relationships that I have there that I will forever have. I can’t wait to go back there and play.”

Prince said he likes the direction of the Hawks, especially the recent additions of rookies Cam Reddish and Hunter and the free-agent signing of Jabari Parker.

The Nets team that acquired Prince is much different as well. After the trade, the Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency.

“Even before that I thought it was a great situation,” Prince said of the singing of the two All-Stars. “They play a lot of fun basketball. They play together. I like the system. Adding them was the whipped cream and the cherry on top.”

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