Some pundits have suggested that the pressure is on for Sean Marks and his new team, assembled over the last several months. It's their first big test, first big transactions after buying out Joe Johnson and Andrea Bargnani and signing Sean Kilpatrick to a multi-year, vets minimum deal.
Marks, the neophyte GM out of San Antonio, enters the Draft with one pick, the 55th, and limited expectations. Anything beyond that is gravy, as long as he doesn't make a huge mistake. That bar, of course, is high, considering the huge mistakes his predecessor made to get the Nets into this mess, one which ESPN's Jeff Goodman says will go on for a while.
@celticsblog I think the Nets could be the worst team in the NBA this coming season -- and next year's draft is damn good.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 22, 2016
The likelihood is that the Nets will come out of the Draft with more than one pick, even if they just decide to use their $3.4 million on additional second rounders or use the money and that pick move up. Marks, though, seems more ambitious than that. He will no doubt, get some offers for the Nets established players.
As Adrian Wojnarowski said overnight in a Vertical podcast...
"I think we are going to see a lot of deals and there are teams outside the first round --Portland, Brooklyn, Houston-- who if the opportunity strikes, would like to get in, if there's a player that they want who's lingering in the early 20's and who they think they can get at him, they could potentially make a deal on Draft Night."
Whether Marks moves is another matter. He has said that he is "not looking to trade" Brook Lopez or Thaddeus Young who he or Kenny Atkinson have described as "building blocks." The Nets have dispatched Chris Fleming, their new assistant coach to Croatia to talk with and watch Bojan Bogdanovic as he prepares for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Moving Jarrett Jack's partially guaranteed deal to a team that needs cap space sounds good, but it will be difficult ... and might require the Nets to take someone else's bad deal in the process.
Who do they like if they move up? We hear Ante Zizic's name mentioned. The 7-foot Croatian teenager has been bouncing around the bottom of the first round on various mocks.
Zizic would certain fit the model of what the Nets want to do with limited assets. Draft Express' Jonathan Givony wrote this about him in February.
He gets quite a bit of his offense rolling and cutting to the basket, where he has excellent timing, hands and touch and will often finish plays above the rim emphatically, which he seems to enjoy doing. His effort on the court might be the best thing he offers, as he is incredibly physical, runs the court with reckless abandon, and is constantly crashing the glass on both ends to come up with loose balls (over 12 rebounds per-40).
Zizic was in New York last week for an agent workout, sponsored by Excel International, Jeff Schwartz's organization. The Nets, we're told, were in attendance. (Also in that workout was another Croatian seven-footer, Ivica Zubac, and 6'8" German small forward Paul Zipser, who Fleming coaches on the national team level.)
If they don't move up out of the second round, a couple of local guys are being mentioned as possibilities: Isaiah Whitehead of Seton Hall, the 6'4" point guard out of Coney Island, and Tyler Harris, the 6'9" Auburn small forward out of Dix Hills, Long Island, who's also Tobias Harris brother.
Marks strikes us as a conservative guy, one who wants to break from the past and avoid the "quick fix" culture. Thursday night is a milestone for him, but not a do-or-die evening as it is for some of his counterparts. It's going to take a long time --and truth be told a lot of painful nights-- to get this straightened out. Sean Marks doesn't have to do everything in one night or one off-season. That's what got us in this predicament in the first place.
Read Ian Thomsen Wednesday morning if you're not sure It's the oft-told tale of what happened on Draft Night in 2013.