A look at the front office staff directory on the Nets' website shows Billy King and Bobby Marks have been busy spending Mikhail Prokhorov's money. Beyond the additions to the coaching and scouting staffs, the Nets have been quietly upgrading other aspects of basketball operations, putting meat on the bones left by Bruce Ratner.
The Nets have added personnel in video analysis, team travel, rehabilitation services and management. The team is expected to hire a staffer whose main duty will be helping young players negotiate the pro game...serving as their mentor. In several cases, the Nets basketball side has wanted to add these jobs for years. Overall, the basketball operations staff has gone from 22 to 30 under Prokhorov. Beyond personnel, the Nets have added specialized equipment in areas like video analysis and rehabilitation services. Most recently, the team has decided to enter into a single affiliation agreement with the D-League's Springfield Armor.
At the end of the day, said one Nets insider, every aspect of basketball operations has been upgraded "big time". Here's a list of what's been done so far:
The team now has seven assistant coaches and an equal number of scouts. In addition to Avery Johnson, the team signed two former NBA head coaches, Sam Mitchell (Raptors) and Larry Krystkowiak (Bucks) and retained two Nets' assistants who spent time as interim head coach last season: Tom Barrise and John Loyer. Strength and conditioning coach Rich Dalatri was also retained and given an assistant, Mike Wenzel, who previously worked at IMG Academies. Popeye Jones, who worked with Johnson in Dallas, is the Nets' big man coach. Doug Overton, who served as a Nets' assistant and scout last season, is now player development coach.
Two former NBA general managers, Bob Ferry (Bullets) and Garry St. Jean (Warriors), have been hired as scouts along with to Billy King favorites from the 76ers, Frank Zanin who will serve as a pro scout, and Danko Cvjeticanin who is the Nets new international scout. Brendan O'Connor, a former assistant coach (Pistons, Kings and Knicks) has been named advance scout. Maury Hanks has been promoted to director of scouting and scouts Khalid Green and Jordan Cohn were retained. The Nets director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky remains in place with overall responsibility for scouting.
Patrick Spurgin has been hired as Video Coordinator. He was formerly with San Antonio, where he also served as an assistant coach for the Spurs' summer league teams. Scott McByrne, who was the Nets' video intern last season, has been hired as the Video Assistant. It's the first time the job has been full time. Both will work directly with coaches. The team has also purchased a new video editing system called Sports Tech. It is the cutting edge of editing equipment. It replaces old equipment the team's had for 10 years. It goes beyond that. Each player has been equipped with an iPad with game video, scouting reports and game prep.
Also hired: Milton Lee as Basketball Operations Director, responsible for statistics and analytics, filling a position that's been empty for two years; and Robby Hoenshel as Assistant Trainer/Director of Rehabilitation, a new position will permit Tim Walsh to keep injury rehab in-house rather than outsourcing it. New rehabilitation equipment has been added as well. Still to be hired: a Director of Player Programs who will assist young players with their off-court needs and serve as a mentor as well.
Meanwhile, the team has begun cutting away non-basketball jobs from Bobby Marks' responsibilities, now that he's been promoted to assistant GM. Marks will focus on the salary cap, trades, personnel, scouting and some budget issues. John Zisa, who has been with the Nets for three years, has been named Basketball Operations Assistant. He will take over team travel related issues. Matt Riccardi will serve as Team Services Assistant, moving up from basketball operations intern last season. He will act as an administrator for the team scouting staff.
As for the Springfield Armor, beginning in 2011-12, the Nets and Armor will enter into a single affiliation partnership, which will give the Nets control over the basketball operations of the D-League team while picking up the tab, estimated to be $250,000. This will be only the second single affiliation partnership in the D-League. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers entered into a partnership with the Houston Rockets last year, with the Vipers going on to win the D-League Championship.