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Trading Jeremy Lin - How Sean Marks kept his point guard aware

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets-Media Day Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been a lot of talk this weekend about teams’ loyalty to the face of their franchise, particularly in Toronto where the Raptors sent DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard. DeRozan had spent his entire career, 10 years, in Canada.

Fans of Jeremy Lin had somewhat similar feelings about how the Nets treated their favorite. As Brian Lewis writes Sunday, fans called Sean Marks a “liar” and a “snake” who should “go to hell,” accusing him of “betraying” Lin.

Of course, the situations are vastly different. DeRozan played 663 games for the Raptors, his only team, over 10 years. Lin played 37 games for the Nets, his sixth team, over two years.

Still, Lewis lays out how the Nets treated the trade. The facts, as NetsDaily has noted, were that the Nets had been trying to move Lin for weeks. The front office decided he wasn’t a long-term fit, because of his injury history and age, when compared to the other guards in the backcourt logjam.

A week ago Wednesday, with the Nets still playing in the Summer League, Mitch Lawrence of Sirius XM, tweeted that the Nets were talking to the Thunder about including Lin in a deal involving Carmelo Anthony.

The rumor was widely dismissed, but Lin was apparently in play. So as Lin noted to Lewis at the time, he spoke with his agent.

“I didn’t [get a call from the Nets]. My agent called me just to clarify. But no, I don’t think there’s any truth to it.”

But the next morning, things changed. Marks called Lin to say that indeed the Nets were in trade talks with the Hawks, not the Thunder, and he was likely involved.

“I updated him,” Marks said at a press conference this Tuesday. “And these things can happen pretty quickly. Summer league, Vegas, maybe it’s a little like the winter meetings for baseball where everybody is there and it gives everybody an opportunity to continue to talk and hash some things out.”

By midnight Friday, a deal was done: The Nets agreed to send Lin, an unprotected 2025 second rounder and the rights to swap second rounders in 2023 to Atlanta for a (heavily) protected second and the rights to Isaia Cordinier, a 21-year-old French guard who the Hawks had taken in the 2016 Draft ... and who the Nets had liked.

The trade provided the Nets with $12.5 million in cap space which when combined with the $10.5 million they still had, was enough to extract a (moderately) protected first in 2019 and and an unprotected second in 2020 from Denver along with the expiring contracts of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur. Isaiah Whitehead who had a non-guaranteed $1.5 million contract, was sent to the Nuggets. Since then, of course, the Nets dispatched Arthur to Phoenix for Jared Dudley and a (lightly) protected second in 2021 ... and added Shabazz Napier to fill the void at point guard.

Marks spoke Tuesday about his conversation with Lin Friday after the trade.

“Obviously things transpired pretty quickly. I talked to him again afterwards, and he handled it like a true professional and gentleman. It’s a tough decision for everybody. I certainly don’t like having to make those calls, but at the end of the day that comes with the territory, and he handled it terrific and we wish him nothing but the best.”

For his part, Lin tweeted a simple message hours later then left for China on his annual tour...

Since then, Lin has tweeted twice, his messages, “Don’t settle,” and “Take care of your own” and posted a photo on Instagram, with a telling caption.

No time to look back!! 沒有時間往回看!#forwardthinking

A post shared by Jeremy Lin 林書豪 (@jlin7) on

Summing up Tuesday, Marks thanked Lin may be the single biggest star to ever sign with the Nets without first being traded to the team. And he did it at a time when the Nets rebuild had just begun.

“I’ve got to thank Jeremy for what he’s done here,” Marks said. “It was terrific having him around, having him in our building. He certainly helped with the culture. His work ethic is unprecedented, so for all of our younger guys and the older guys alike to see how hard he works at his craft but also his rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately for him, a lot of it was spent rehabbing. His time here was great. Obviously I’d assume he’d say the same thing, he wished he was on the court more.”

As Lewis writes, DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have reached out to Lin on social media, offering him their best wishes, and when a fan asked Lin if he was already in Atlanta he replied, “not yet but my mind is.”

At the end of the day, pundits and Nets fans have praised the Nets and Marks in particular for the haul. In a single week, the Nets traded three players — Lin, Whitehead and Arthur — who played a combined total of 346 minutes in 36 games last season plus a 2025 second rounder for Faried and Dudley, but more importantly, four draft picks in 2019, 2020 (two), and 2021 plus a promising (if healthy) European guard.

Like they say, it’s a business.