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Patty Mills: ‘Night and day’ difference between last season’s culture and this one

The word of the week was “camaraderie.” It’s almost replaced “culture” as a Nets byword, but not quite. Still, the Nets pushed the idea in interviews and the release of images from a team dinner/birthday party on Wednesday night at Lucali in Brooklyn.

The release included the first image of the new “Big Three” sharing a pizza.

“We all like each other. We hang with each other. We go out and get drinks, get dinner. I think that’s camaraderie,” Kevin Durant told an always inquisitive Nick Friedell Friday.

Patty Mills knows about camaraderie and culture, both from his time with the Spurs when he was part of two Finals teams and won it all in 2014 as well as the Australian national team that won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. the country’s first in men’s basketball. He likes what he sees from his teammates ... so far.

“Look, I believe in all of that stuff,” Mills said earlier this week, as Peter Botte of the Post reports. “I think that it’s always been a part of who I am and just enjoying being around teammates and getting to know them a lot more. Maybe that comes from my Australian background on the Australian teams, but then to see it at a professional, elite level in San Antonio kind of took that to a whole other level.

“But trying to get to be the last team standing or just trying to do everything possible to do that, it starts with those relationships.”

Veterans like Goran Dragic who had similar experiences before he arrived in Brooklyn late last season told reporters in the summer that the Nets were more about individual achievement than team play. Cameraderie was at a premium, with KD arguing this week that it’s hard coming up with that kind of chemistry when players were unavailable, hurt, etc.

Irving, who played only 29 games because of his refusal to go along with the city’s vaccine mandate, said much the same about this year’s team ... and role Mills plays.

“Everybody should be included in our success, and that’s what I believe Patty holds within our team. He’s a successful piece, he knows what it takes to be in an organization, he knows what it’s like to build trust and also do it at the highest level,” Irving said Thursday. “You need a guy like Patty Mills just simply to have the locker room synergized, but he also can give you minutes and quality play and can think out there for the young guys, as well as give us some veteran leadership.”

Although the Nets don’t have as many older veterans as they did last season with Dragic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, James Johnson and Paul Millsap, they do have Mills and Markieff Morris ... and only one rookie, Alondes Williams. Last season, they had four. And you can be sure there’ll be a lot of interest in whether Durant takes on a more visible leadership role. It all matters, as Mills said.

One other camp note from Friday: the Nets like what they see from T.J. Warren who as reported at Media Day won’t be available until at least early November. He is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash told reporters. Warren had said he is fully healed from his complicated 2021 foot surgery but rehab just takes time.