When Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson scan the floor at the outset of the Nets' first training camp practice, it is going to look noticeably different than the veteran cast that assembled at Duke University's Michael W. Krzyzewski Center two years ago.
There won't be many whispers about Father Time eventually beating the Nets down or punchlines depicting them as a collection of dinosaurs. Johnson and Jarrett Jack begin camp as the Nets' lone two thirty somethings, which certanly wasn't the case the last time the Nets set foot in North Carolina's Research Triangle.
Youth will be served.
"There's nothing wrong with getting younger," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "It's a young man's game. You can't just play with all older guys."
The eldest statesmen of the Nets' new collection of players is former Knick Andrea Bargnani, who doesn't turn 30 until Oct. 26. Wayne Ellington, another free-agent signee, is 27. On the lower end of the spectrum comes first-round pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who won't hit 21 until Jan. 3.
Hollins believes replenishing a roster with young talent is a necessity nowadays, pointing at how the Warriors outpaced the Cavaliers in the Finals in June.
"Cleveland has Shawn Marion," Hollins said, "Cleveland has James Jones. Cleveland has Mike Miller. Cleveland has Kendrick Perkins. They can't play against Golden State in the Finals. They can't get in the game. So they had no subs, they had no depth. You've got to have people that can get up and down the court, and cover people, and run with people, and compete against people.
"You like veterans, you like experience. But old is old, and young is better."
Given the collection of new faces and understanding the need to foster a bond between them, Hollins thought holding camp away from the area would be beneficial. For a team that plays 11 of its initial 16 games of the season on the road, establishing some cohesiveness and accelerating the jelling process could be vital to any season-long success.
"Last year we stayed here [in New Jersey]," Hollins said. "We were in a hotel right around the corner and half the guys weren't staying there every night. And so we didn't get the togetherness and that camaraderie that goes with being at training camp. When you go away, staying at a hotel, getting up, riding on the bus to practice, riding back on the bus from practice, having breakfast and lunch together at the same time . . . we had guys coming in early and eating, guys come in later and eat.
"So just all of that makes it simple. We can have our breakfast meetings, we can have our video and study sessions. It's a lot easier to do it when everybody is the hotel than it is when everybody is going home."
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is expected to be on the scene at some point in camp. Wearing a long-sleeved black shirt with "Nets Basketball" emblazoned in white and holding a basketball in a video posted on the team's official Twitter account, the Russian billionaire indicated he wants to get an up-close view of the franchise's latest product.
"I have heard that you have got a field trip planned for a week of training and team-building," Prokhorov said on the video. "I thought I'd join you there to say a personal hello and find out how we get ready to start the season. So I am packing my bags and I am looking forward seeing you very soon at Duke University."