Anthony Bennett’s tumultuous NBA journey experienced another setback on Sunday as he was demoted to the Brooklyn Nets’ Developmental League affiliate Long Island Nets.
Bennett, 23, played in 10 of Brooklyn’s 15 regular season contests and was averaging a career-high 5.3 points, and 2.6 rebounds per game. He, along with Chris McCullough, who was also demoted, suited up for the L.I. Nets as the team lost 112-98 to the Grand Rapid Drive.
In 34 minutes of action, Bennett finished with 22 points (9-of-18 from the field), eight rebounds, five assists, four steals, and one block in front of 1,377 fans. The demotion was not a punishment for Bennett, who, in his most recent contest, notched eight points and four rebounds in 10 minutes of action for Nets in an 118-97 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
The move was facilitated by the luxury of the Nets’ D-League affiliate playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Before the season started, the team was open about the fact that players may frequently move up and down between the D-League and NBA squads to get frequent playing time.
“Fortunately for us, we’re in the same building. We practice in the same building, we play in the same building, we run the same system (as the Nets),” said L.I. Nets head coach Ronald Nored said earlier this month (via SB Nation’s Nets Daily).“So, if that were to happen, guys come down with a seamless transition, no confusion. They can just come and play and get better.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson noted before the Nets’ Sunday night matchup against the Sacramento Kings that Bennett and McCullough may pull double duty and play in the nightcap, too. Sure enough, both players were recalled and will be in uniform for Sunday's night game.
The former first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft Bennett has drawn praise for his play this season. While may never shake the “NBA Draft Bust’ label off, Bennett can utilize an arsenal of moves to remain a productive role player in the NBA.
“It’s double-edge. We both have really good opportunities, and that’s the way we look at it,” Atkinson said to Brian Lewis the New York Post earlier in the season. “Anthony Bennett is showing some real life as a rotation big, and he’s pushing for minutes. He did a lot of good things. He’s a system fit: He’s fast, he’s athletic, he’s long, he can roll to the rim, he can shoot. I’m tempering my enthusiasm, but I really like what we saw the other night. He really fits the modern NBA, runs the court.”
After rededicating himself over the offseason, which included playing for the Canadian national team, Bennett’s goal to find NBA stability continues to be a daunting task.
But when he gets opportunities, teammates like All-Star Brook Lopez have been pleased with the results.
"I like that when he gets a chance, he’s ready," Lopez said.