"All-in ... with patience" is not the kind of catchy phrase teams use to get fans excited for the coming season, but for the Nets, that might as well be the team's promotional slogan this summer. Not that there's anything wrong with "We Came to Play."
But patience is, if not the slogan, the watchword for the Nets of 2016-17. As Sean Marks told David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com, Mikhail Prokhorov signed off back in February, the day the Nets agreed to hire Marks. Now, it's up to the fans.
"We've asked the fan base here to be patient with us.
"This goes from ownership all the way down,When Mikhail wrote his letter, the lessons he learned, that sort of stood out. It stood out for me, that a guy of his stature realized, we're going to go in a different direction this time. Now it's up to us to put a product on the floor that's going to be sustainable, and not just for a fleeting moment. I understand there could be some trying times here for the organization."
So far,so good, but the games haven't started and the losses haven't started to pile up. Hopefully, he told Aldridge, there will be pride if not championships.
"We're not going to win 50 games next year. We get that. But if we can put a product on the floor that we can be proud of, that fans can appreciate, if fans know that we'll compete every night, that'll speak volumes. Especially the Brooklyn-New York fan base will appreciate that."
Aldridge notes all the roster and staff changes and how the Nets lost out on Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, noting that Marks even sees a positive in that. "We didn't get them, but we have to take some solace that they signed with us when they had other offers on the table." he told Aldridge.
The big change though will be collaboration. No more small group ethos.
"We're very much into collaboration and everybody having a voice. It's important for us to have people that are going to think a little bit differently, but bring a fresh set of eyes, not only to the game, but avenues outside of the game."
Patience, indeed, is a virtue, but in sports, particularly New York sports, it may also be a teeth-gritting experience, even for a billionaire. Can it work? Aldridge thinks it can, if Marks and Kenny Atkinson get time. Aldridge writes...
"There will be no more cutting in line. You can't buy or quip your way to a title. Atkinson will take the group he's got and try to make them a little better, day by day. The training center is as good as anyone's in the league already, and will help the Nets down the road with free agents. But it's just bricks and mortar. The results will not be immediately pretty or successful, but the Nets are determined to build a team the right way this time."