This is a transcription of the press conference new Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks and Board of Directors leader Dmitry Razumov held before the game against the New York Knicks this evening:
Dmitry Razumov: Thank you Gary, and thanks to all of you for coming. In case you're wondering, while Mikhail is not here, he did introduce Sean to the players and the coaching staff and the front office earlier today. And he will be here today for the game, but he chose not to distract the spotlight from Sean and let you hear what our new General Manager. Before I pass on the microphone to Sean, I wanted to say a few words about the process that brought us all here. It's... we're pretty proud of what we've done. It's been a thoughtful process. We didn't rush, we did extensive due diligence, interviewed a lot of people, spoke to a lot of people around the league, and in the end, what made our choice was a couple of things. First, it's Sean's personality that I'm sure you're going to enjoy tonight. He has vast experience in playing, coaching, and management, which is pretty unique in the league. His excitement about building something special here in Brooklyn, not somewhere else. And last but not least, the culture of the team he made his name in and where he learned as a manager. So, it was a unanimous decision by our decision making committee. We knew immediately this was our guy. So it is with pride and pleasure that I introduce to you the new General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks. Sean, please...
*Applause in the room*
Sean Marks: Thank you, thank you very much. First of all, it's a real privilege I want to thank Dmitry, Mr. Prokhorov, and the entire Nets organization for having the faith to bring a little boy from New Zealand all the way here. So, it's great. I have a big thanks to the family where I came from, from San Antonio. The Spurs organization let me partake in this process and ended up here. It's special and I'm leaving behind a lot of great memories, but again, they've helped me to become the person I am, the General Manager I am, and this leads me to be sitting here in front of you today. So again, thanks to them as Dmitry mentioned before, I've had the opportunity of being a journeyman as a player, I got to see many different teams around the league and around the world, and see how things were done differently and how things were done the same. Got the privilege of playing with a ton of fantastic players, coaches, and front office staff. So, I hope that I can capture all that I've learnt and bring it to New Jersey and have a clear vision of what I'd like to implement here. It'll be built through a solid, strong foundation, systematic process, and we'll be putting something out there on the court the community can be proud of. We'll be a competitive bunch of guys both on the court and behind the scenes. So it's an exciting time for me especially, but I know it's an exciting time for the rest of the Brooklyn Nets, and hopefully for the community as well. So again, thank you for having me here, I appreciate it, and I'm looking forward to a fun few years. I'm realistic about the goals and challenges ahead of me for sure, it goes without saying. But again, I'm in a great environment with a great group of people. I've had a chance to sit with Mr. Prokhorov a fair bit and discuss what's expected here, and we seem to have a clear vision together of what's the next steps to be taken in order to fill out roster wise, staffing and so forth. So we're all on the same page there. It was clear to me that Mr. Prokhorov had a winning vision in mind. What he's done to put Barclays here in Brooklyn, what he's done with the new practice facility, the commitment to the D-League with the Long Island Nets. So those things all tell me that he's willing to spend the money in the right places and bring the right people in here. So, again, I'm excited to be here and this is going to be a tremendous, tremendous time.
Gary Sussman: OK, let's open it up to questioning. Sarah?
Sarah Kustok, YES Network: Sean welcome. You touched on it just a bit there, but what ultimately led you to the decision to take this position and know that this was the right fit for you?
SM: You know Sarah, it was a difficult decision. Anytime you're having to get out of your comfort zone isn't easy, but at the same time, my time spent with Mr. Prokhorov, Dmitry, and the rest of the Nets group during the interviews led me to believe that we have a similar vision. And I'm privileged to have had the opportunity in San Antonio to be around some really great staff members. Both Coach Pop and R.C. Buford were tremendous mentors for me. So what I've learned from them and to be honest, it's time for me to see if I can do this, and it's not on my own. I'll be bringing in a staff and it'll be a collaborative approach, but I think this is the right environment for me to do it.
Andy Vasquez, Bergen Record: Sean, Mikhail Prokhorov said that he viewed this as a small reset (this off year) and that with a couple players and a little bit of luck that this team can be a contender as soon as next year. What is your vision in terms of that?
SM: Well, the vision is to evaluate immediately. So it'll be evaluating the roster, the staff, the needs, finding out what can be put in in the meantime. By no means is this a wasted year. You can still get some things out of this year. We've got some really talented young guys on this team that need to be developed. We've got a culture that needs to be set and that starts from Day One. Everything that I do here with the help of the organization behind me is gonna help in setting that culture.
Tim Bontemps, Washington Post: Dmitry, you guys said you interviewed a lot of people for this job. What was the biggest thing you learned from that process and why did you have such an expansive process to talk to as many people as you did?
DR: Well it wasn't too expansive. I said many people, and it was eight candidates. The best of the best. The selection of eight was the result of a thorough due diligence and background checks. We wanted a lot. We wanted different visions. We learned about different cultures that existed on different teams. Well, again, I said the culture of the team that Sean is coming from was too persuasive.
Brian Mahoney, Associated Press: Sean, whenever someone from the Spurs goes on to become a coach or front office guy somewhere else, everyone talks about their culture and can you bring it somewhere else. Is that your goal and thought and can that be done or is what they have is kinda so perfect there that it's hard to create that somewhere else?
SM: It's certainly special there, there's no questioning that. But I think culture is something, a term that gets thrown around pretty loosely. We're gonna bring this culture, we're gonna bring that culture. The people within the organization are gonna define this culture. So it's the hires that are going to be made over the next two, three, four months, those people are gonna be the right people to push that culture, to drive that culture, and you'll see that culture not only on the court, but It'll be behind the scenes, it'll be within the community. We'll all be on the same page with a clear vision.
Simone Sandri, La Gazzetta dello Sport: Hey Sean, you broke a major barrier by becoming the first international GM in the NBA. What's the chances you gonna break another one by hiring an international head coach?
SM: *Laughs* Well you know what, there's a list of head coaches out there and we'll be looking worldwide. It doesn't limit it to just the US or anywhere, but that list'll stay with me for now, and as I go through the process, and then slowly include the bigger resources behind me, then we'll come to terms.
Mike Mazzeo, ESPN: Just a follow up question on that question about the coach, Dmitry. How much input will Sean have and then Sean, are you kinda comfortable with you heard from ownership about how that process is gonna go?
DR: I'd like to approach that as a process. We like what we did searching for the GM position and it be a process that will be driven by Sean. We'll follow his vision and he'll be heading that process, but it'll be a process with due diligence, interviews, and reaching out.
Brian Lewis, New York Post: To kinda followup on that question: Sean did you have to be convinced that you would have, I guess for lack of a better term, the proper time and the proper autonomy to do this job the way that you wanted to do it? In other words, that you would have enough control and enough years to get this thing going the way that you would want to see it going?
SM: I'm not sure I needed to be convinced. It's like any negotiation, they go back and forth. However, I'm extremely happy with what I've heard, otherwise obviously I wouldn't be here. Again, it's going to be my vision, but the staff that I bring in, it's a collaborative approach. Once the staff starts coming in, we're all in this together. The way it was done where I basically grew up in San Antonio, it was like that. The relationship that Pop and R.C. had together, nothing was done with the other not knowing. So that's important. It's inclusive, it's a partnership, that's what I'll be looking for not only in a head coach, but the relationship that I have with ownership, and the relationship that I have with all my staff.
Howard Beck, Bleacher Report: Sean, a lot of teams have had to try to dig their way out of a hole. Obviously teams go through their cycles. But it's rare to be that far down and have no draft picks for three years under your control to do it. How big of a challenge does this then become not having that as a tool and what's a realistic timeline then for getting back to respectability knowing you don't have that as a tool?
SM: Well sure draft picks are one way to build a team, but there are several other places and other ways to go out there and do it. Obviously you can go to free agency. I've seen it done around the NBA where you're building not only through free agency, you're building through the European market, you're building within your D-League franchise and developing your players there. So yes for sure, not having a draft pick as we stand right now, but that doesn't change So we'll just wait and see. Time will tell.
Laura Albanese, Newsday: Prokhorov had mentioned that one of the biggest issues that he wanted to deal with between management was establishing a cohesive identity. One of the things he mentioned was whether to build around younger players or bring in star talent right away. I was just wondering what your philosophy is on this matter
SM: I think you look for players that are gonna fit within your culture. You can bring in a star player, but if he doesn't fit with the vision with where you're going, that can derail a system as well. So whoever we bring in here, they're gonna play team basketball, they're gonna be competitive on the floor, the coach is gonna have a defensive mindset and a system that gets them playing well and accustomed to where I've come from. I can't tell if you if it's gonna be a star player. I can't tell you if it's gonna be a young player. There's certainly gonna be some vets. Every team needs leadership. Whether that comes in the way of a star player or whether that comes in the form of a guy who's 12th, 13th, 14th man on the bench. We'll have to wait and see how the roster pans out.
Nick Metallinos, Starting5online.com: When you were a kid growing up in New Zealand, did you ever dream that you would one day be the general manager of an NBA team, and two, would you be scouting the Oceania region to bring some players over here
SM: I didn't dream that I'd be the GM of the Nets, but as I've said before, I'm privileged to be that now. As I've seen it done countless times, the world is such a small place now, we'll be scouting everywhere just like every other NBA team does. We have scouts all over the world and we'll find the best for Brooklyn and we'll be bringing them here.
Alex Raskin, Wall Street Journal: Do you plan on expanding the scouting department and also what kind of opportunity does the rising salary cap present?
SM: Good question, Alex. Yes, the entire organization staff will be expanded without a doubt. Whether it's scouting, front office, we've got a D-League team, that staff will have to be built. There'll be staff members throughout that will be added to the list. The rising salary cap certainly gives us a lot of opportunity out there. It doesn't give us the opportunity to completely start over, but in a weird way, we're starting on the same page as many other teams under the new money coming in... but so is everybody else.
Devin Khapertain, The Brooklyn Game: You were hired about five hours before the trade deadline. What were the challenges in actually being able to look at the team and evaluate what you were able to do up until that point and what were the discussions like from that perspective?
SM: It was an interesting 24 hours I'll tell you that because the night before I was working for another team, but they quickly kicked me out of the room, and then I got on the phone with the Nets here, with Frank (Zanin) and the group that was back here. We were talking and sometimes the best thing you can do is not do anything. For me, it's important to get up here, to evaluate this roster. We didn't wanna jump to any conclusions, jump to do anything, do anything drastic, it's... get our feet on the ground here and see what we've got.