Ian Eagle, appearing on the SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch, talked about how the Nets still have a long way to go but he likes the way Sean Marks is handling things and thinks maybe they “still have some things up their sleeves” in free agency.
While he didn’t explain, the YES broadcaster also said he feels the Nets “have got to hit on one of these restricted free agents.”
In general, Eagle said he likes what Marks et al have done in the rebuild from what he called “unprecedented situation.”
“We've seen teams that have hit the reset button and have ‘tanked’ with the idea that they accumulate young players then hope that the chemistry develops, try to accumulate assets so that they can make trades, be flexible,” Eagle told Deitsch.
“But the Nets had none of those things, based on the circumstances that they were put in. Billy king swung for the fences. Ownership was behind it and they paid the price on the draft swaps with Boston, the picks themselves. This year, Boston gets the No. 1 pick based on the swap with the Nets. They trade it. They turn it into they believe is a better deal for them.”
On the other hand, he notes, “the Nets are trying to be prudent, trying to be smart. Sean Marks took over a very difficult situation. I like what they're doing. I like how they're going about it. They're not panicking. They're not taking on players that were stars at one point and getting them in their twilight and hoping that they can catch lightning in a bottle. They're not dealing in that way. “
Specifically, Eagle mentioned the way the Nets have handled the draft.
“I like what they did in their first draft with Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whitehead, two guys are certainly going to be part of the core moving forward. This draft has yet to be seen. They had to get into themselves into the first round just to be in the conversation with Jarrett Allen from Texas.
“I think they still have some things up their sleeves.”
And while he likes the priority on the culture, specifically talking about the treatment of players, Eagle said succeeding with a restricted free agent is a must.
“NOW, they've got to hit on one of these restricted free agents,” he argued. “They've whiffed on all of them, based on the other team's matching contract offers and they've put those teams in a precarious position. So they may not be popular with teams but they've shown the rest of the league that they're serious and they are wiling to take some chances based on their talent evaluations.”
Getting noticed, he said, is a big part of the rebuild and that’s where the culture of putting players first comes in.
“They're trying to deal with the culture first, which I could see signs of last year that were very different from previous years: how they treat the players, where they physically go to train, which was a big step for them to get their own training facility and to make a safe haven for their players and how they're perceived by agents, other players, decision-makers of the NBA.
“That was their first order of business and they have been successful in changing the way that they are viewed.”
Eagle said that if Jeremy Lin hadn’t missed 46 out of 82 games, the perception of the team might be different.
“If he's healthy, then they're a different team. Last year, they won 20 games. Lin physically was not part of the team because of a hamstring issue that he couldn't quite shake. The games he played they were really competitive. Could they have been a 30-win team with Jeremy Lin? If they had won 30 games, that would have been considered a resounding success,” he told Deitsch.
Eagle said he liked DeMarre Carroll of his veteran presence but added, “They're not trying to do a quick fix here. They're looking at the long term possibilities and with that requires a lot of patience.’