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Nets taking full advantage of sharing venues with D-League affiliate

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long island nets uniforms Long Island Nets

When the Brooklyn Nets purchased the Long Island Nets last year for $6 million, they became the 22nd NBA franchise to have a D-League affiliate for the 2016-2017 season. Having a D-League team is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity for NBA teams.

Unlike the other 21 teams in the league, the Nets organization has an advantage (at least for one year) as the Long Island Nets share venues with its parent club in the Brooklyn Nets.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Nets have begun yo-yoing players, first sending Chris McCullough down to the D-League and then calling him back up to the big leagues, sometimes for practice, sometimes for games. They’ve done it six times and we aren’t even a month into the season. On November 23, McCullough became the 4th player to appear in an NBA game and a D-League game in the same day. The others were Jordan Farmar, Coby Karl and Cleanthony Early. Then on Saturday, he did it again. And Tuesday vs. the Clippers, he might have another chance. He was assigned to Long Island Monday so he can play the Windy City Bulls in the afternoon and L.A. in the evening.

It doesn’t stop there.

On Sunday, November 27, the Nets assigned BOTH McCullough and Anthony Bennett to the Long Island Nets, then later re-assigned them to the Brooklyn Nets. To be precise, the two were recalled by Brooklyn a little more than an hour before the 6 o’clock game against Sacramento. Bennett didn’t play, but he could play Tuesday since he like McCullough was assigned to Long Island.

There’s another reason for the two’s peripatetic ways: Long Island has been hit by a spate of injuries. Egidijus Mockevicius, who the Nets had in training camp, had to leave Saturday’s game with a shoulder problem.

“It’s so helpful that it’s close, Kenny Atkinson said prior to Sunday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “It’s helpful that our D-League coach (Ronald Nored) was with us all pre-season, so we’re running the same system. To do it here at Barclays Center where our coaches can watch the guys play, rather than traveling 3-4 hours. It’s a huge advantage for the Nets.”

With the Nets focusing heavily on development, this is something they need to do in order to groom their guys, and maybe -- just maybe -- find a hidden gem.

By sharing venues, the Nets have established something similar to how programs are run at the high school level. Most of the time, varsity coaches have their own system with older and experienced players, while junior varsity coaches follow the same system with younger and inexperienced players in order to get them to that next level.

Oftentimes, teams will combine and practice together. That’s not permitted at the NBA level. but, they’re in the same gym and coaches can help one another out. It’s only for one season, but you’d better believe the Nets are taking advantage of it while they can.

Some insiders have called it a ‘blessing in disguise’ that Nassau Coliseum on Long Island wouldn’t be ready until the 2017-2018 season.

“Fortunately for us we’re in the same building. We practice in the same building, we play in the same building, we run the same system (as the Nets),” Ronald Nored told NetsDaily at the franchises media day. “So, if that were to happen, guys come down with a seamless transition, no confusion. They can just come and play and get better.”

Nored, 25, has gained a lot of trust from Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson. Sure he’s young, but this all coincides with the rest of the hires within the organization. A youth movement is taking place within the franchise, which means growth opportunities for players, but also executives and coaches.

It’s all one part of the culture they’re trying to implement: growing together to make tomorrow a better day.

“I’m a big believer in the D-League, “Atkinson said. “I’ve seen it help so many guys. I mean, I remember with Jeremy (Lin) when we were with the Knicks and him going to the D-League, having a big game and coming back. There’s so many instances of that and it helps guys’ confidence.

An all-time high 135 players with NBA D-League experience were on NBA rosters at the start of the 2016-17 regular season.

The Long Island Nets will play 22 of their 24 home games as part of “double-headers.” During the first two, they’ve had at least one Brooklyn player assigned. Seven players on the current Brooklyn Nets roster have spent time in the D-League. Expect that number to increase as the season goes on.