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Sean Marks tries (vainly) to tamp down expectations

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To most Nets fans, he is “Marks the Magician,” “the Wheelin’ Dealing’ New Zealand” or simply “the Marksman,” the guy who (usually) gets his man.

But, as he has with each succeeding press conference, Sean Marks has tried to keep things under control, tamp down expectations. No, he’s not “too focused” on the playoffs; all his success this off-season really doesn’t amount to much more than “baby steps;" and the Nets have “long, long way to go.”

Most fans dismiss that. Been down so long, this looks like up to us. Marks told the beat writers Thursday that he sees the off-season as a success, sure, but disappointing, too.

But mostly he talked about the need for realism, a lot of realism and of course, appreciation.

“I give a lot of credit to the group in here and have worked really collaborative between analytics, scouting – you know the scouts did a terrific job this year.”

“We had some targets in mind. It’s no secret. We didn’t get the one restricted free agent we went after but we were able to move and go in a different direction relatively quickly here.

“So yeah are we happy? Sure. But I think we know we have a long, long way to go. It’s exciting for me and the whole group with the steps that we are taking but we’re all very realistic here knowing this is just one little baby step. “

What about playoffs? You can almost hear echoes of Jim Mora, just at a lower decibel level.

“I’m not really too focused on the playoffs. We’re obviously making steps that everybody can see. We are going younger, we got a youth movement here, we’ve got guys that are versatile and still have a lot of upside. I’m looking forward to getting these guys with our coaching staff and developing them and we’ll just see where it goes from there.”

So he’s not saying the team he assembled won’t make the playoffs. Nor will be say they will. He was also non-committal about whether he’s done for the off-season.

“I hope you never feel like you’re done. We continually gotta try to have our finger on the pulse of the rest of the league and see what happens.

“I think we’ll take a bit of a deep breath and see what shakes out here, but I don’t know. Who knows what’s going to happen throughout the year. I think if you asked us a month ago we probably couldn’t have predicted what happened – not just here but around the league. It’s just something where we gotta stay fluid and be ready to react.”

Not even a big man?

“I think we’ll be looking at everything. I don’t know if I want to limit to just to a big man. I think that’s obviously an area where we’re a little shallow right now, so we’ll see what happens.”

Maybe DeMarre Carroll could play the 4. He has before, Marks noted.

“I think he has played some 4, so for us, yeah, I think he can play the 4. Depending on the lineups out there – I think we’ll see a few different ones. It’ll be entertaining to see what the coaches come up with.”

And despite the failure with Porter, Marks wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of going after another restricted free agent.

“If there are guys we really wanted to go after -- restricted or unrestricted – we’ll hopefully make that pitch and have an opportunity to go after them. We know that our target this year was Otto [Porter] but he was matched… not surprisingly.”

Maybe he gets Porter back like he did with Crabbe.

Marks may be right about "baby steps" and not "focusing on the playoffs" and the team has only won 41 games in two years, so they are probably "a long, long way" from where he wants them to be. Not to mention the risk of big contracts, young players at almost every position.

But also there's no doubt some things have changed and as he said, the Nets should play "a fun brand of basketball" this season. Or as Vice Sports wrote right after his press conference, “The Brooklyn Nets are no longer atrocious.”

That alone should make fans happy.