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Despite tough preseason, Marks sees progress ... in accountability

NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with the Post’s Brian Lewis, Sean Marks concedes the Nets have a long way to go, but likes the progress the team has made in the culture he and Kenny Atkinson have tried to instill. Particularly, he likes how the players are holding each other accountable. It’s been a bit of a surprise.

“What’s been really good is they’re beginning to hold each other accountable. We have a long, long, long way to go; I’ll preface it by saying that first,” Marks said. “But at the same time, they’re having fun, they’re enjoying each other, and when it becomes a player-led culture and when they’re holding each other accountable, [saying,] ‘This is what we expect, guys. We’ve got to bring it every night,’ and in various different little ways, that’s pleasantly surprising.”

Marks added that holding players responsible is traditionally the coach’s role, but it’s better if that’s augmented by the roster.

“They don’t need to hear the coach’s voice all day every day — Kenny’s the first to admit they don’t need to hear me all the time — but hearing from each other, it’s a different level,” Marks said. “And it doesn’t mean [we’re there]. We’ve got a long way to go. That’s the end goal for us. That’s what we’d like to see. But we’ve got a long way to go.”

The GM also credited Atkinson and his staff for its work ethic, being there before the players arrive and after they leave. That, he told Lewis, was crucial for the buy-in by the players. Asked about last year’s staff, run by Lionel Hollins and then Tony Brown, Marks was ever the diplomat, but made it clear there’s a big difference.

“It’s hard for me to say. … I don’t want to knock last year’s staff because they did what they could do,” Marks said. “But it’s much easier to have player buy-in when [the players] see the coaches are in here hours earlier than me, they’re staying hours later than me. They’re putting in the time. They can relate to the caring, the hard work and the empathy our coaches have shown toward our players.”