Is A “Split Squad” Smart?

Posted on: July 6th, 2009 by Sebastian Pruiti Comments

With the economy at a downturn and the Brooklyn move on the horizon (I admittedly don't know too much about the Brooklyn move other than it is still up in the air, Netsdaily has a lot of info on it), the Nets have been doing a lot to try and save money here and there.  They have done stuff like fire employees, implementing summer hours at the facilities, giving the assistants pay-cuts.  Now these moves suck, and as a Nets fan I would rather see them not do these things, but one can understand why they need to be made.  The one money saving move that Bruce Ratner (I assume that he is the one who made this decision) has implemented this summer that I vehemently disagree with is the "split squad" for our summer league.

Finacially sharing a summer league roster with another team makes sense.  However, from a basketball standpoint this is a stupid decision.  There are so many basketball-related cons to this move, it is just plain silly.  Lets look at them:

Easier To Scout

Many teams are private when it comes to practices.  They usually don't let media in until the end, and they sure as hell wouldn't allow other teams to be involved and watch practices.  So why is it ok during the summer league?  Now granted we probably won't be running our normal stuff, but Sixers' coaches are going to be able to see Nets' players who will be getting significant playing time (Terrence Williams & CDR) behind close doors.  They are going to be able to pick up on little tendencies and weaknesses that might not be known to other coaches and scouts.  Let's say that when Terrence Williams dribbles to the left twice behind the three point line, he shoots it (This is not true, and is just an example).  The Sixers' staff will be able to pick up on this in our "joint" practice sessions and scrimmages, and then they can use this as an advantage during our regular season games.

Less Roster Flexibility:

Normally during the summer league, you see a fair amount of young pros mix with a couple of unsigned rookies to make up the squad.  This year, the Nets only have 1 player who played for them last year on the roster.  I would like to see players like Brook, C. Lee, Yi, and even Devin (If we had our own team, this would be 6 pros and 6 unsigned rookies) be able to play in the summer league so they can mesh, learn to play together and improve.  I am most disappointed that Courtney Lee isn't going to be there.  This would give him an opportunity to play with some guys on the roster and allow him to get a headstart on learning the system.

Along the same lines, with a split squad we can't really experiment playing different guys at different positions.  For example, I (and I am assuming the coaches) want to see Terrence Williams play the point during these games to see if he can handle playing the point from time to time during the year.  He won't be playing much point though.  Why?  because Jrue Holiday, the Sixers' first round pick will probably getting the most minutes at point.

You Lose An Advantage With Unsigned Rookies

Unsigned rookies have the ability to sign with any team they choose, so if you find a guy that you like and that you are thinking about signing, you want to make him feel special.  During a summer league, that is when that happens.  Your coaches teach and talk to the unsigned rookies and they become familiar with them.  That way, when it comes down to signing with a team (whether it be a 1-year contract or a 10-day contract), they remember how well you treated them and they sign with you.  With a "joint" roster, you have two sets of coaches.

Also, let's say the Nets find a diamond in the rough, a unsigned rookie that just plays phenomenal (someone like Jeff Adrian comes to mind if he plays well this week).  Guess what?  The Sixers see this too, and they have immediate access to the player.  Let's say both teams love Adrian and want to sign him.  It is a good possibility he could end up with the Sixers even though he was our invite.

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Am I making too much of a big deal about this?  Maybe.  Maybe I am overreacting and a week long summer league isn't that important.  But what if it is?  What if the Sixers just absolutely frustrate us during the regular season because of something they picked up during the summer league?  I am not saying it will happen, but it is possible.