Without leadership, there is no culture. And that leadership can’t be limited to the coaching staff or front office.
In fact, many of you have battled about who will step forward and lead the Nets, with options usually limited to two players, D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, in 140 characters or less.
When asked about leadership among his players during Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, Sean Marks, sitting beside Kenny Atkinson, spoke highly of one veteran on the Nets roster.
After noting he’ll be watching, “who gravitates to who and so forth,” the name that flew out of his mouth when answering the question was DeMarre Carroll. First and foremost because he has the cred, winner’s cred, and the coach’s confidence.
“Obviously you have a guy like DeMarre Carroll — when a guy like that who, Kenny and DeMarre are close. DeMarre’s been on 60-plus win teams for the last three or four years so he knows what he’s doing out there and he didn’t come here to lose."
Carroll, 31, was acquired by Brooklyn in a trade (heist) that included a first and second round pick in the 2018 draft that the Nets received, at the cost of third-string center, Justin Hamilton.
So, if you’ve been living under a rock, or lost in the Himalayas, you may have missed the rob — um, deal. Marks is making us all crime reporters.
Yes, Carroll is owed a lot of money, two years and around $30 million worth. But Marks had high praise for the combo forward out of Birmingham, Alabama, whose best basketball came as a member of the Atlanta Hawks a couple seasons ago, where Atkinson was a top assistant.
During that time, Carroll played in 143 games, missing only 13, and starting in all but one, logging 31.7 minutes per contest. The 6-foot-8 swingman posted 11.8 points on 47.9% shooting from the field and 37.9% shooting from deep during that span, including career bests of 12.6, 48.7%, and 39.5% in 2014-15.
He also averaged close to 15 points per game in a deep playoff run that same season, prior to Atlanta getting bounced by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. That same spring, Atkinson and Carroll were part of the Hawks team that knocked out the last Nets playoff team, winning 4-2 in the quarterfinal series. Carroll torched his now current organization for four-straight 20-point games on a blistering 64% field goal shooting, and and equally deadly 63.2% from deep.
Carroll may have had lesser stats in the two years since departing the Hawks and suffering a knee injury, but those Raptors teams won 56 and 51 games, and he started every contest he played last season, all 72 of them.
Make no mistake. While the Nets are not a “win-now” team, they certainly aren’t here to tank, and without their pick, there’s no incentive to anyway.
Marks touched more on the relationship between Atkinson and Carroll, who averaged 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and shot only 40% from the floor in 26.1 minutes per game throughout 72 appearances, all starts.
“He’s going to hold guys accountable to certain expectations,” said Marks. “Kenny, because of his relationship with DeMarre, won’t be afraid to hold him accountable. It’s kind of that trickle down effect where Kenny can coach DeMarre hard and DeMarre expects it. Then DeMarre can, in return, do the same thing for his peers.”
As far as leadership on the remainder of the roster, Marks mentioned Lin, Trevor Booker, even Timofey Mozgov. The GM does not think his (mostly) young roster will lack for leaders.
"If you look at some of our core pieces here, they’re 19, 22, 23 years old. They’re some young guys out there. So they’ll rely not only on Kenny, but they’ll rely heavily on Jeremy and Trevor and Timofey to add their expertise to it.”
“So I think it’ll be a little bit done by committee.”
- Nets may have found a leader - Brian Lewis - New York Post