Brooklyn Nets Announce New D-League Team

On November 5th, Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormack announced that the Nets will have a D-League team at the start of next season. The team, set to be called the Long Island Nets, will play their first season at the Barclays Center next year before moving to their permanent home at the Nassau Coliseum. With the Long Island team, the Brooklyn Nets will join 20 other NBA teams with direct D-League affiliates.

This is a significant development (ahem) for the Nets franchise. Last season, when the team couldn’t find minutes for then rookie Markel Brown, they sent him to the Developmental League so he could get some playing time. Since the the Nets didn’t have their own affiliate, they were forced to send him to the Maine Red Claws, the Boston Celtics affiliate, where Brown played a total of 8 minutes. There is little point in sending a player to a developmental league if they aren’t given any playing time to, you know, actually develop. By owning their own D-league affiliate, the Nets will have control over how that team is run. If they draft someone with the Celtics pick next season, they can send him to Long Island and know that he will be guaranteed a starting spot. Also, the Nets can install a coaching staff in Long Island with a similar offensive and defensive philosophy as the NBA staff, allowing for players to transition smoothly between teams.

The Nets decision takes on even greater significance when viewed through the prism of their recent history. When MIkhail Prokhorov purchased the Nets in 2010, he said he expected the team to win a championship within five years. Under his direction and GM Billy King’s stewardship, the organization spent those five year obsessed with the short-term, trading draft picks for declining veterans. Now, five years after his championship promise, Prokhorov’s team is in contention for the worst record in the NBA, without even the comfort of a high draft pick. More than just adding a D-League affiliate, this move represents a necessary shift in organizational philosophy from the present to the future tense.

Brooklyn Nets Official Press Release:

“Today’s announcement is an exciting one – not only for the NBA D-League, which welcomes the league’s record 21st team; or the Nets, who will have a place for young talent to develop; but for Nets fans,” said Malcolm Turner, NBA D-League President.  “The NBA D-League is a place where talented young athletes refine their skills and develop into NBA contributors, and fans in Brooklyn, and later on Long Island, are sure to enjoy watching current and future NBA talent in an affordable, family-friendly atmosphere.  I’m excited to work with the Nets’ executive staff as we ramp up to the start of the 2016-17 season together.”

“The creation of a D-League club goes hand in hand with the building of a younger, more athletic Brooklyn Nets team,” said Brooklyn Nets Principal Owner Mikhail Prokhorov.  “It will provide additional roster opportunities that will serve us well as we focus on realizing the full potential of our coaches and players, current and future.”

Five members of the current Nets roster have played in the NBA D-League – Markel Brown, Sergey Karasev, Shane Larkin, Willie Reed and Donald Sloan.  Additionally, Nets assistant coaches Joe Wolf and Jay Humphries both served as NBA D-League head coaches.

“This is a great step for our franchise,” said Billy King, Nets General Manager.  “We will now have the ability to help our young players and coaches grow and develop.”

“The Long Island Nets will be a great brand extension of the Brooklyn Nets, and will give us the opportunity to reclaim a territory that was once ours,” said Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “The creation of the Long Island Nets is indicative of our ownership’s commitment to the Nets and to the franchise’s future success. The new team will also serve as a proving ground for up-and-coming talent in all areas of our business.”