Frank Isola says that Sean Marks has great rapport with Kawhi Leonard’s uncle and advisor, South Orange, N.J.-based Dennis Robertson. And Stephen A. Smith says that Marks and new Nets scout Tiago Splitter are plotting to steal Leonard away from San Antonio.
It’s hard to put any stock in reports so sketchy, particularly when 1) there’s no indication Leonard wants to leave San Antonio and 2) it’s hard to construct a deal that would satisfy the Spurs even if they wanted to deal him. And we don’t even know if the Nets would be interested.
But one thing is certain: Leonard would find a coterie of former Spurs employees —we count 10— working for the Nets, all of whom were in San Antonio at some point during Leonard’s time there. We did our survey using LinkedIn —the Nets no longer post the names of their basketball operations employees. In addition to Marks, who played, coached and managed operations in San Antonio, there is a wide variety of Spurs exiles in Brooklyn ...
Here’s our list...
--Sean Marks, General Manager, hired directly from the Spurs. Had been a player, assistant GM and assistant coach with the Spurs. Won two championship rings with the Spurs, as a player in 2005 and assistant coach in 2014.
--Jacque Vaughn, Lead assistant coach, hired directly from the Spurs. Vaughn was a player for two years with the Spurs, then an assistant to Gregg Popovich for two years, beginning in 2010, After being fired as Magic head coach, he returned to the Spurs as a pro scout in 2015, then pro personnel director. Won a championship ring in 2007.
--Logan MacPhail, director of coaching analytics, hired directly from Spurs where he had been manager of coaching analytics last season and before that an analytics specialist for two years. Was with the Spurs championship team in 2014..
--Andrew Baker, Coordinator, Strategic Planning, hired directly from the Spurs. He had been Basketball Operations Quality Assurance Assistant with the Spurs in 2015-2016 after serving as Basketball Operations and Legal intern the year before. He’s a lawyer.
--Trajan Langdon, Assistant General Manager, hired from the Cavaliers. Langdon spent a year with the Cleveland front office. Before that he had served as a pro scout for the Spurs from 2012-15, and was a member of the team’s front office during their 2013-14 championship season.
—Tiago Splitter, Pro Scout. Splitter played five years with the Spurs and helped San Antonio win the 2014 NBA championship before spending the final two seasons of his seven-year career with Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Nets said Splitter, who also played for Brazil’s national team, will have added duties related to player on-court development.
—Bret Brielmaier, 28, Assistant Coach, hired from the Cavaliers. Before joining the Cavs three years ago, Brielmaier worked for four seasons with the Spurs (2009-13), beginning his career as a player development assistant before becoming the team’s video coordinator his final three seasons.
--Mitch Heckart, Manager public relations staff, hired from the University of Oklahoma. Before that, he worked for the Spurs public relations staff for two years. He accompanied the Larry O’Brien trophy on an 82,000 mile journey around the world, bringing it to the hometowns of all the Spurs players.
—William Grove, Regional Scout. A San Antonio resident, Grove served as an assistant video coordinator from July 2005 to September 2012.
Also, Chris Fleming, the Nets offensive coach, served as a Spurs summer league coach for the Spurs in 2014
Does it matter? Probably not, but if you’re going to switch jobs, having a group of guys you’re familiar with can’t hurt.