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The Brooklyn Nets are already back in the gym

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The Nets off-season isn’t just about free agency. That speculation is the bright, shiny object. What really matters is sweat equity being expended behind closed doors.

NBA: All Star-Practice Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Ball doesn’t stop for the Nets… literally.

The Nets have been out of the playoffs for over a month now. Everybody is talking about the Finals ... and the biggest off-season in Nets’ history. May is typically the time for players to go on vacation, spend time with their families, etc. before players start moving and preparing for their next step.

The Nets, however, are already back in the gym and have been just weeks after being eliminated by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. First, Jared Dudley brought it to Twitter, stating how pre-draft players must be shocked to see an NBA team working together so fast after elimination.

Dudley hasn’t been shy with any of this type of talk. He’s said on several occasions how impressed he is with Brooklyn’s blue-collar identity. This type of stuff shows when people aren’t watching.

In Brooklyn Nets France’s exclusive,Dudley credits Kenny Atkinson for getting them in the gym, citing D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa and DeMarre Carroll. Keep in mind: Russell is bound to be a restricted free agent, while Dudley and Carroll will be unrestricted free agents.

”The players of the team are already training to prepare next year,” Dudley told BNF. “No team does that except for Brooklyn. When I get back, I’m gonna practice with D’Lo, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa and DeMarre Carroll. Plus me, that’s seven players who are in Brooklyn to work. Kenny’s a genius to everyone. He works hard, he’s honest and the reason we’re good is because he makes everyone important. No one is better than the others. I’m glad he got his extension and stayed here.”

While Kenny gets a ton of credit for getting these guys in the gym, others have taken it upon themselves to get in the gym.

Spencer Dinwiddie is back in his hometown in Los Angeles working with his personal trainer, Olin Simplis. Simplis says Dinwiddie getting overlooked for Sixth Man of the Year is “fuel” for Spencer entering next season.

“We are in the gym every morning. No days off,” Simplis told NetsDaily. “He’s been working on a variety of different things. Different ways to finish around the rim, side step and cross steps into threes, combos and handles to create for himself and others. Then, just refining his shooting, off the dribble and off the catch.”

Simplis mentioned how Caris LeVert joined Dinwiddie for a workout on Wednesday, too.

There have been others, specifically D’Angelo Russell. Chris Brickley, Russell’s indefatigable personal trainer based in New York City, posted an Instagram story of D’Lo working out at Brooklyn’s practice facility at 1:22 a.m. this past Friday.

Then, Thursday, Russell was seen working out with Joe Harris at Real Madrid’s home court in Spain! Russell and Harris are in Madrid as part of an NBA promotional trip around the UEFA Champions League Final in the Spanish capital Saturday.

This isn’t necessarily new for the Nets. Last spring after a 28-win season, Russell and Carroll organized a team-bonding experience in California. All but one player on the team worked out for seven days while bonding at Timofey Mozgov’s mansion.

The word “culture” might be tossed around a little too often, but this is very much a big part of the Nets franchise. Building a culture starts at the top – ownership, executives, coaches. However, the most important aspect of it all are the players. It’s crucial that the team is cohesive and on the same page, trying to make one another better, if they plan on growing together.

These things don’t go unnoticed even if they happen during a time when it feels like nobody is paying attention.