Nets, Armor make partnership official
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD The New Jersey Nets have a lot of work to do before the National Basketball Association (NBA) has its draft on June 23.
Not only do they have to make plans on what they want to do with their own team to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007, they also need to figure out what to do with the Springfield Armor, a team looking to make the postseason for the first time ever.
The Nets and the Armor officially began their exclusive partnership on May 1, which makes Springfield the sole NBA Development League (D-League) affiliate for New Jersey. With the arrangement, New Jersey is ultimately responsible for the player and personnel aspects of the team's operations.
"One thing I want to say is when we started this process, we were very excited about this agreement," Nets General Manager Billy King said in a conference call with the media. "Now that it's come to fruition, we're even more excited."
King said the first order of business in Springfield will be to select a head coach and assistant coach who will be able to develop players for Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson's system.
"We need to find the right coach and then we will look at personnel," King said.
With a clear goal of creating an atmosphere in which everyone in Springfield can develop their skills for the next level, King said Johnson would be involved in the decision on who is hired and added that the future coach of Springfield would be in line for opportunities at the NBA level if a spot on Johnson's staff opens up in the future.
Dee Brown, the former Celtics star who has coached the Armor during its first two seasons in the D-League, will be considered for the job, King said, but the Nets will also look at other options. Brown's assistant, Kevin Whitted, is also expected to compete for his own job.
"I spoke with Dee and with Kevin and told them we will be looking for coaches," King said. "They will be candidates. We will be talking to them and looking for other candidates."
The Armor has compiled a combined 20-80 record through the past two seasons under Brown. The team showed improvement, jumping from seven wins in its first season to 13 in its second, but those 13 wins left the team 24 games out of first place.
King said he hopes to have a coach in place by the draft and it is unclear whether the duties of the general manager would be included in the head coach's job description.
After those decisions are made, King said the team would conduct its draft with not only the Nets, but also the Armor, in mind.
"We want to find the right personnel for the right coach," King said.
The Nets have become active in their assignments and call ups with the D-League, including providing the services of Terrence Williams, a 2009 first-round pick, to the Armor in November before he was traded to Houston, as well as Ben Uzoh in March. While in Springfield, Williams averaged a triple-double per game 28 points, 11.3 rebounds and 10.7 assists. Uzoh knocked down 16 points per game and eight rebounds.