In what seems to be an effort to improve chances at landing free agents, the Philadelphia 76ers have announced plans for a new practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. The upgrade is one that’s desperately needed, especially when you consider the Sixers are the only team to still rent practice space.
The money is actually coming from the state of New Jersey, which is a bit of a surprise considering a practice facility doesn’t seem like a likely investment for permanent jobs. Still, with the Nets running to Brooklyn a few years ago, I guess it makes sense that NJ would want to do anything they can. According to the state’s economic development authority’s application, 250 full-time jobs will be created, and over 35 years it will provide a net benefit of $76,614,905 off of the $82,040,507 investment. The thing about those 250 jobs is, only 50 are really new, with the other 200 being transferred over from the current offices down the road.
But will state of the art facilities be enough to bring in top level talent? The short answer would be: no, it won’t be, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Obviously Philly isn’t going to land Carmelo Anthony this offseason at a reduced rate purely because they’ve got a great place for him to train, but it definitely will help their chances at bringing in better players.
No NBA player, star or not, is going to want to train at a facility that feels like anything less than the best. I get that it is just practice, but that’s still a solid chunk of the life of an NBA player. Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil says that this is going to be the biggest and the best training facility in the country.1 If that isn’t enough to make some mid-level talent think twice before dismissing an offer from Philly, then this team really is in bad shape.
Construction will start on the facility later this fall, with plans to open in 2016, so it isn’t likely this is going to have any impact on this offseason’s free agency, though it does show players who may be interested that the team is trying. They’ve got a ton of cap space and a ridiculous seven picks. By drafting wisely, giving those players a couple of years and using this facility as a selling point for some quality free agents, and this team could train their way into being one of the top teams in the East.
Still, to paraphrase a Sixer great, we are just talking about practice.