The Salt Lake Tribune's Ross Siler has this dispatch from the Orlando Pro Summer League, where the Sixers and Nets are strange bedfellows:
The union became official at halftime of Monday's summer-league opener at the RDV Sportsplex, when 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski pulled up a seat along press row next to Nets president Rod Thorn.
For one week at least, the Atlantic Division rivals have come together, with a joint New Jersey/Philadelphia entry in the Orlando summer league prompted by the worst economy in a generation.
Whatever they lose in individuality, the Sixers and Nets hope to save in costs. They took the court Monday in generic blue NBA jerseys, coached by a staff of two New Jersey and two Philadelphia assistants.
"I'm not a fan of it,” Philadelphia coach Eddie Jordan admitted. "I like working with your own players and teaching your own guys, getting your own guys in your system.”
"I don't want to have to berate their player for not picking up. It just doesn't seem right to get on their players for doing something that you want them to do.”
The marriage has led to some strange scenes, to be sure. Philadelphia's newest first-round pick, Jrue Holiday, warmed up for Monday's game in a Nets shirt, leading one Sixers staffer to observe that a free shirt is a free shirt.
After Monday's game, Jordan was asked about Nets rookie Terrence Williams, prefaced with the qualifier: "You won't have him beyond this week ...”
(Jordan's answer: "He's a very competitive player. He's strong, he's a bull out there. He's got great, quick moves. He can change direction in a heartbeat. He's an aggressive player. I really like him.”)
In addition to their own draft picks and players, the Nets and Sixers each made four selections for the team. The offense can best be described as an overlap of Jordan's and Lawrence Frank's systems.
"It's a combination of what they've done and what we're going to do,” Jordan said. "And that's why we make it work, because we know the Nets.”
Frank called it "a little bit of an introduction” to his offense, adding, "But I think this has to be more about the development of the guys as opposed to putting in your system. Especially when you're
splitting a team, it makes it tougher.”
The biggest benefit, Frank said, comes in having a deeper summer-league team than most. The Nets/Sixers have four recent draft picks in Chris Douglas-Roberts, Holiday, Marreese Speights and Terrence Williams.
Were it not for the history between Jordan and Frank, Thorn and Stefanski, as well as assistants Tom Barrise and Mike O'Koren, the Philadelphia and New Jersey pairing probably would be doomed to
"It's a joint venture, where it only works for us because we know the Nets guys,” said Jordan, who nevertheless described the partnership as being "different” three times in one answer.
Of course, the Nets and Sixers players still have it better than Bobcats second-round draft pick Derrick Brown, who is playing with the Jazz in Orlando with Charlotte not fielding a summer-league team to cut costs.
Brown ended up with the Jazz thanks to a longtime connection between Charlotte coach Larry Brown and Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor. (There's a lengthy explanation as to why the Jazz didn't also end up with Bobcats lottery pick Gerald Henderson.)
Brown had nine points in his NBA debut Monday night, which came in a Jazz jersey, playing for a team coached by Jazz assistants. In fact, Brown wasn't even sure if the Bobcats were sending a representative
to Orlando to watch him.
"It's definitely a good opportunity to be out there and start the ball rolling in the NBA,” he said. "Whatever it takes for me to make a stand in this league, I'm going to do it.”
Frank was asked if the Nets and Sixers were just ahead of the curve, whether next summer will feature other entries based on geography and cost-saving, like the Heat and Magic, the Bulls and Bucks, the
Warriors and Kings or the Jazz and ... nobody.
"In these economic times, look, you've got to be fiscally very responsible and I think you just have to be prudent in the decisions you make,” Frank said. "Every group is different. This worked for us and Philly and it made sense, and who knows what the future holds. Hopefully, things get better.”