East Rutherford, NJ---With a historic season in the books, a season that saw the 2012 Springfield Armor complete the NBA Development League’s greatest single-season turnaround, the Armor have shifted into offseason mode.
While the players that fueled the Armor’s meteoric rise to the top of the NBA D-League’s Eastern Division have moved on to individual workouts, overseas deals, or summer training camp invites, the Armor’s coaching staff is hard at work positioning the team to continue its winning ways in 2012-13.
The Armor’s basketball operations staff, led by Brooklyn Nets’ general manager of minor league operations Milton Lee, Armor head coach Bob MacKinnon and assistant coach Chris Carrawell, have fanned out across the country to evaluate prospective NBA D-League players.
The most recent stop for the Armor trio was the Nets’ draft combine (done in conjunction with the Houston Rockets) this past weekend at the Nets’ practice facility, the PNY Center, in East Rutherford, NJ. All 30 NBA teams, as well as many NBA D-League teams, had representatives on hand to evaluate the 44 prospects in attendance.
Lee was responsible for organizing and running most of the on-court activities throughout the two-day combine and MacKinnon and Carrawell joined Nets’ and Rockets’ assistant coaches working with the players. Other Nets’ front office personnel, including head coach Avery Johnson, general manager Billy King and assistant general manager Bobby Marks, were in attendance.
“We had a great chance to look at 44 guys and find out who the Nets are possibly interested in and guys that we can develop for the Nets down the road,” said MacKinnon. “With our league, you always have to be on the lookout for players who can possibly help you and to get the chance to see 44 guys in the same location is a great opportunity.”
The event was set up by the Nets to give the Brooklyn franchise the chance to have its coaches work directly with draft-eligible prospects, both in skill workouts and 5-on-5 scrimmages. The Nets’ staff also got first crack at private interviews with the prospects on hand.
"We're not just doing it for our team in Brooklyn. The D-League is taking off right now,” Nets’ assistant general manager Marks told Draft Express late last week. “We have an affiliate in Springfield. A good chunk of these players could be in the D-League draft. That's an advantage for us.”
The integration between the Armor and Nets’ staff has continued to expand in the offseason. MacKinnon and Carrawell will be involved in many of the Nets’ offseason activities, assisting both with the Nets’ players, as well as the pursuit of future NBA D-League talent. The Armor staff will be involved with the Nets’ summer league team, additional NBA Draft preparations and preseason activities, among a wide array of responsibilities.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more [from] the players [and] the support from the Nets,” said MacKinnon. “I think the hybrid affiliation with the Nets really turned out to be such a huge step forward for the whole Springfield franchise. I think it bolds well for the future of the franchise. I think what we did was bring down a great base for the future success in Springfield.”
The synergy between the Armor and Nets’ staffs has also allowed for invaluable development opportunities for Carrawell, who continues to refine his approach on the heels of a successful first season as an assistant coach in the NBA D-League.
“This is going to help us for the future,” said Carrawell, shortly after the end of Sunday’s workouts in New Jersey. “This is a great opportunity for us to learn and also be involved in helping out and helping these young kids try and reach their dream.”
After a memorable debut season of the hybrid single affiliation between the Springfield Armor and the Brooklyn Nets, the Armor staff will forge ahead during the offseason to position the Armor to continue the momentum toward next season.
“I think (the fans in Springfield) have a lot to look forward to,” said MacKinnon. “The Nets are fully committed to this. The people in Springfield are going to see a high level of basketball night in and night out. As the 6,000+ people who saw us against Sioux Falls (in the team’s regular season finale on March 30) can attest, it is a great value.”
The excitement for the 2012-13 edition of the Armor is already building, from Brooklyn to Springfield.