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New practice facility makes living in Brooklyn much easier

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When the Nets moved to Brooklyn, the logo, colors, city and home arena all changed. But there was still a piece of New Jersey in the Nets and a reason for them to still call it home.

Despite the hyped up move to Brooklyn, the Nets still practiced in New Jersey. Management's offices were still located at the East Rutherford spot, which is quite the drive to/from Brooklyn especially if you get caught in traffic.

With the team playing in Brooklyn 41 times a season, but practicing in a different state nearly everyday, not to mention the cost of living in New York, most Nets players felt it wasn't worth moving to New York, let alone Brooklyn, if they were going to have to make the long commute to Jersey everyday anyway.

"I would have definitely lived in Brooklyn if we were practicing there," Jerry Stackhouse told the New York Times back in 2012.

He wasn't alone.

"I actually wanted to live in Brooklyn," said former Net C. J. Watson who lived in Edgewater at the time, a 12-mile commute to East Rutherford. "I just had to stay close to the practice gym."

But as the practice facility chatter finally became a reality, some - or one - stayed prepared.

"It's a good feeling to already be over here," Thaddeus Young, the first Brooklyn Net to live in Brooklyn said about moving to the borough in the offseason. "I didn't wanna be the guy next year trying to scramble and trying to hurry up and get over here as opposed to everybody else. Everybody else is living in Jersey and they're cool going to the [East Rutherford] practice facility, but when it comes time to come over here and get back for games, that was the most brutal part for me [the commute was sometimes two hours from New Jersey to Brooklyn]. That was the brutal part for me going back and forth to the game, and game days are the most important days."

Young signed a four-year, $50 million contract to remain with Brooklyn after being dealt at the 2015 trade deadline. Three full years after the Nets calling Brooklyn home, they finally had their first Brooklynnite.

For him, the move was well planned as the Nets look to move into the $50 million training facility sometime in mid-February.

"We like to come down and walk on the piers and walk on the bridges and stuff like that," Young said. "Plus, the practice facility is gonna be in Industry City, so that's gonna be probably 10-15 minutes away from here, and like I said, Barclays Center is right up the street."

The Nets hope Young isn't the only one. They're hoping the expensive and hip new facility can help attract free agents this summer, an absolute must for the Nets to become a winning team again.

Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, spoke of the importance of a new facility last year. "When free agents come into town, they ask,‘Well, is my wife and family going to like the city? Are the schools good? And where do I spend all my time? Well, we know they have a great arena and a great fan base.

"But how about, 'Where am I going to practice?' And they would come out and see the kitchen, the pool and workout area and say 'Wow.' I don't have one of these. So let's go and do it."

Larry Bird had similar thoughts in mind. "It also helps us recruit free agents and bring other players in."

The late Flip Saunders also believed in the importance of new facilities and luring in free agents. "It's going to help from a recruiting standpoint; players want to know they can go somewhere they can get better," said Saunders. "It also shows the team's made a commitment to build those type of facilities. There's a commitment to doing what you can to try to be the best."

Nobody is guaranteeing the Nets will land a top free agent because of the new practice facility. Nor will it cause them to suddenly become a winning franchise. But if players want top-notch amenities when signing with a new team... this certainly won't hurt. It shows a level of commitment that ownership is willing to spend whatever it takes to be a first-class --and winning-- organization.

Expect the Nets to give them a grand tour. Starting with Bojan Bogdanovic in July 2014, every new Net has been driven over to 148 39th Street to take a look.

The luxurious facility has an unbeatable view of the New York City skyline and includes two full basketball courts, a weight room, a training pool and two hydro pools, a rooftop entertainment space, an 18-seat multimedia theater, 3,000 square feet of hospitality/players' lounge space, and a media interview/workroom. It will be the only practice facility in New York City. The Knicks and Rangers practice in Westchester.

Whoever fills in the vacant GM and head coach positions will have their own offices in the center of the facility, too.

"Now, our arena, training center and offices will all be together in this great borough," said Irina Pavlova, president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment last year. "The team's ownership is committed to making the Brooklyn Nets a championship caliber team, and a best in class team deserves a best in class training center."

So as the move nears, Nets players are forced to make a decision. They can either stay in New Jersey and make the trek to Brooklyn, or move to Brooklyn/Manhattan and practically walk to the arena and practice facility. There's only 40 games remaining and only five players are guaranteed to be back next year. Four others have player options.

Doubtful that ownership is worried about that. They're just hoping this can help them climb out of the hole they find themselves in. Of course, spending money hasn't proven to be a game-changer in the past, but this amenity is something bound to wow free agents.

Just wait until they see the view.