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Long Island Nets’ roster build part of Brooklyn Nets’ new development emphasis

When you have KD. Kyrie and James, development is not a top priority. But when you don’t — and the Nets don’t — it is.

2023 NBA G League Eastern Conference Finals - Delaware Blue Coats v Long Island Nets Photo by Mary Kate Ridgway/NBAE via Getty Images

Given how deep the Nets are in rebuilding mode, what they’re doing out on the Island is more intriguing that it’s been in the last few years.

Having discovered diamonds in the rough during his first rebuild — most notably Spencer Dinwiddie — Sean Marks and co. will no doubt put a high priority on the G League affiliate and the league in general. When you have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, development is not at the top of the must-do list. Now, it is.

Mfon Udofia, the Nets new G League coach, told Chris Carrino earlier this month. “My number one philosophy is going to be centered on development, helping our players and our staff to be the best version of themselves.” Udofia has experience as a G League assistant and interim head coach of the Nigerian national team, both development roles.

On Saturday, as expected, the Nets waived big Patrick Gardner and point guard Kennedy Chandler who had been signed to an Exhibit 10 deal two days earlier. Their G League rights will ultimately be assigned to Long Island as have eight others since training camp began, the foundation of this season’s team.

Here’s the full list of the 10 players who have cycled through the same process, internally referred to as “Twitter signings,” roster moves tweeted out rather than being the subject of press releases.

  • Patrick Yousef Gardner, 6’11” PF, 24 years old, Marist
  • Kennedy Chandler, 6’0” PG, 21 years old, Tennessee
  • Jordan Hall, 6’8” SF, 21 years old, St. Joseph’s
  • Keifer Sykes, 6’0” PG, 29 years old, Wisconsin-Green Bay
  • Kyler Edwards, 6’4” SG, 24 years old, Houston
  • Scottie Lindsey, 6’6” SG, 27 years old, Northwestern
  • Kameron Hankerson, 6’5” SG, 25 years old, Wisconsin-Green Bay
  • Trey McGowens, 6’4” SG, 23 years old.

Of the group, three have NBA experience. Chandler played 36 games last season for Memphis, Sykes 32 with Indiana, Hall nine with San Antonio. Gardner started for the Egyptian national team in the FIBA World Cup this summer. Hankerson and McGowens both played for Long Island last season and were on the Nets Summer League roster.

Also, Long Island has reportedly signed 22-year-old Khalil Shabazz, a 6’0” combo guard as well. He averaged 18.3 points on 41/36/87 shooting splits last year for the University of San Francisco.

If that group who are the ones to watch? Gardner, Chandler and Hall would seem bests.

Of course, Long Island will also have access to the Nets three two-way players. Brooklyn has signed two of the three allowed on the new CBA: Jalen Wilson, 22, the 51st pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and Armoni Brooks, 25, who the Nets signed after a solid Summer League in Las Vegas. Brooks has 74 games NBA experience. The third two-way spot could be filled by Harry Giles III, also 25, who hasn’t played for two years but has looked good in Nets training camp. Two-ways don’t count against the G League’s 10-man roster limit.

Nor will any Brooklyn Nets players who are sent down. It wouldn’t be surprising if either or both of the Nets first round picks — Noah Clowney, the 6’10” big out of Alabama and Dariq Whitehead, the 6’7” wing out of Duke — spent time on the island. Whitehead is only now participating in contact drills following his foot surgery in early June. He could begin the season on Long Island.

Long Island opens its training camp October 31, then open their season on November 10 at Nassau Coliseum vs. Raptors 905. It’s certainly possible that the G League Nets’ camp roster may change of expand when Long Island holds its Media Day the day before training camp opens, particularly with the third two-way. Still, expect the Nets front office to keep close tabs on what’s going on out at Nassau Coliseum.