As has been widely reported by a number of sources this morning, the Nets are entering into a single affiliation partnership with the Springfield Armor, an NBA D-League team. Per the agreement, which is for three-years and begins in 2011-12, the Nets have a “hybrid affiliation” with the Armor, enabling them to control the team’s basketball operations: pick their roster, hire their coaches and assistant coaches, and more or less implement an organizational philosophy all the way down to the NBA’s equivalent of a minor league team. The team will be able to send rookie and second-year players who aren’t getting playing time to the D-League team and recall them when need arises. The caveat is if an Armor player doesn’t have an NBA contract with the Nets, they are free to sign with whoever they want around the NBA.
This is a huge move for the Nets. For one, it’s clear demonstration that ownership is serious about creating a winning atmosphere around the organization. When you look around the league, many of the better run teams – i.e. San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder – have single D-League affiliates. The Houston Rockets, another organization that seems to have a clue, are the only other franchise to have this “hybrid affiliation” model the Nets will be using. This is obviously a serious investment in time and resources for Mikhail Prokhorov. The assumption seems to be he may use the Armor as a way to get some of Russia’s players over to the states where they can play ball, but regardless, this move instantly puts the Nets in an elite class around the league.
Secondly, from a pragmatic standpoint, having this hybrid affiliation is worthwhile and is it will allow the Nets to implement the organization’s defensive and offensive systems to the lower levels. So if a replacement player is ever needed, they will not have to be versed on specific plays or team philosophy. Plainly said, it gives the Nets more of an edge if the need ever arises.
Kudos to the organization for this move. Looking forward to seeing how this relationship works out.