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In the NBA, the new arms race is over practice facilities

Brooklyn Nets

When the Nets open their $50 million training center on Wednesday, they will be the second team this month to open a practice facility. The Raptors opened theirs last week.

As Jerry Zagoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports Sunday, it's the next big thing in the NBA and nearly half the league's teams are building one or are about to...

Last summer, the Wolves opened their new $25 million Courts at Mayo Clinic Square, one of the league’s 13 state-of-the-art practice facilities that have opened since 2013 or are coming by 2018.

Among them: The Bulls opened their $25 million facility across the street from United Center nine months before the Wolves opened theirs. Toronto opened its $38 million (Canadian dollars, about $27 million U.S.) facility on Wednesday. Brooklyn’s $50 million facility opens this week when the Nets return from the All-Star break. Philadelphia’s $80 million complex should be ready for training camp this fall.

With the exception of the 76ers, each of the facilities will be a replacement for an older training center.  Philly has been practicing for decades at PCOM, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Its new yet unnamed facility is being built in Camden, across the Delaware from Center City. A number of the new facilities are downtown.

Of course, with so many teams arming themselves with training facilities, it will take a lot for the Nets to distinguish themselves.  In some ways, it's analogous to the salary cap situation.  Everyone will have money to spend this summer.

Still, none of the grand openings are likely to get the play that the Nets will get this week. The reasons are obvious: New York (the view of the skyline); New York (the media market) and New York (marketing an even hipper Brooklyn).  There will be a luncheon and press conference, featuring Mikhail Prokhorov (and maybe a new GM?), city officials, players, etc

The Nets want it, need it, to be something bigger, something symbolic as well, an announcement of the team's "reset," the beginning of a hoped-for turnaround.  The team hopes it will become the gold standard around the league and have spared little expense.  Aside from the skyline, there will be all the basketball amenities, including two practice courts,a new locker roomweight and training rooms, a  two-story players lounge, an 18-seat theater with a giant screen to review game tape, etc.  It will be open 24/7/365.

The Nets even hope for some play in architecture magazines.  As David Manica, the architect notes, "Everything about the design of the new training facility celebrates the robust character of the existing building and Brooklyn’s rich industrial history.  The sleek lines of the dark metal exterior and wide expanse of glass at the North wall are carefully orchestrated to be in balanced contrast with the masonry and brick finishes of the original building."

There are going to be some questions about the downside of a facility in Brooklyn. Most of the Nets players and staff still live in New Jersey with only one player, Thaddeus Young, living in Brooklyn. The commute is a killer. Living in the city IS expensive.

How much all of the positives and negatives matter will be played out in the summer when the Nets bring free agent candidates to 168 39th Street.  Will the "wow" factor help the team dissipate this year's misery and next year's uncertain prospects. We shall see.