While Kris Humphries was waiting out the free agent process in his native Minnesota, he was working out on a regular basis with a personal trainer but didn’t know what kind of playing shape he would be in.
“I was only running sprints in a gym,” Humphries said. “I could only do that for so long. I definitely had to get back.”
Humphries signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Nets, for whom he enjoyed a breakout season a year ago. But he had the benefit of only one preseason game where he was constantly heckled by Knick fans in Madison Square Garden and two full practice sessions before the NBA season tipped off Monday night.
But Humphries showed no signs of rust in the season opener Monday night against Washington, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds as the Nets came from 21 points down in the first quarter to win 90-84. Humphries, who averaged 10 points and 10.4 rebounds last season, picked up where he left off last April.
“I had a lot of things going on in the offseason,” said Humphries, who gained international attention for his brief 72-day marriage to reality TV celebrity Kim Kardashian over the summer. “I’m happy to be back. This is where I wanted to be.”
Humphries provided the muscle just a few days after the Nets learned that they would be without standout fourth-year center Brook Lopez for as much as two months because of a foot fracture suffered against the Knicks in the final preseason game.
Humphries also made a key steal with 24 seconds left Monday to secure the improbable comeback win. It’s a huge start for the Nets, who had a tough preseason while handling the Dwight Howard trade rumors and the injury to Lopez, then had to overcome the huge deficit to start the first game. They will head back to New Jersey to begin their final season in the Garden State on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks at the Prudential Center.
“We got down big in the first half, but we stayed with it,” Humphries said. “I think the leadership of our guards made it easier for guys like me and (Johan) Petro.”