In May, the Capitanes poached Nick Lagios from the Lakers organization to make him their general manager, and by September, a compromise of sorts had been reached: The Capitanes would hit the road for 14 games as part of the G League’s Showcase Cup, then play a pair of exhibitions in January against the G League Ignite, the team for top N.B.A. prospects.
Lagios and Díaz sought a mix of players as they assembled their roster: players with Latin American roots, players who relished defending, players with experience who could mentor younger teammates. The team wooed players with the possibility of being noticed by N.B.A. scouts along with the somewhat less alluring offer of a prorated G League salary, which is typically $37,000 for a full 50-game season. Plus, the players could be a part of something new.
“It’s a team that cares about winning,” said Justin Reyes, a former Division II all-American at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, N.Y. “So we all knew we would need to make sacrifices to make it work in such a short amount of time.”
Serratos recalled the start of training camp last month and a moment of collective joy: The Capitanes, after so many delays and so much uncertainty, had finally come together. But his serenity was jarred loose, he said, when Tyler Davis, a 6-foot-10 power forward, went up for a dunk in the first minutes of the team’s first practice and shattered the backboard. Díaz rushed over to check on him.
“Tyler, you are a monster!” Díaz told him.
While Serratos began calculating how much it would cost to replace the backboard, there was another, more immediate concern: His collection of nomads was suddenly down a hoop. No more dunking.
‘Win Every Game’
On the morning of their game against the Austin Spurs, the Capitanes were back on the bus — this time, bound for a light shootaround at the arena and another opportunity to form chemistry. The team had been bolstered by a couple of late additions, including Moises Andriassi, a 21-year-old point guard and one of Mexico’s top young players.