Sean Marks may have slipped on Friday night when he summarized things by saying, “We’ve got a long way to go.” That’s progress. He has long said, “We’ve a long, long way to go.”
So a telling one less “long” on the trail to contention or was it a slip of the tongue? We don’t know. But Marks said enough when talking to the New York media to indicate that he and the Nets aren’t abandoning their strategic plans. Keep roster building mostly organic, understand the role of continuity, and strengthen that culture that everyone believes is at the core of whatever success the Nets have. Above all, be flexible.
“We’ll continue to be systematic and strategic along the way. Does that mean we pivot along the way here and there? Sure,” Marks said. “We’ve had to do that in the last couple years. But I would hope that we don’t skip a step as you mentioned before, that’s never been the goal here. Again, it’s always been about putting something sustainable there with a strong foundation.”
That seemed to the rule during the trade deadline. The Nets, who every pundit thought be active, did nothing other than spent a little more than $600,000 to take on, then waive, Greg Monroe and acquire an unprotected second rounder in 2021 (giving them a first and two seconds in the Draft where high schoolers can be picked, expanding the pool of prospects.)
As he and Kenny Atkinson have said the last few days, getting both Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert back on court in the days immediately before and after the deadline is a big deal.
“As it pertains to our particular trade deadline, maybe one of the biggest things was getting guys back healthy,” said Marks. “That might have been the biggest addition to our group without trying to cause too much disruption to the culture and to the group. Let’s see what we’ve got first and foremost.”
Putting aside Friday night’s debacle, the Nets have shown growth and success, winning 21 of their last 31, beating good teams and bad. Now, with Crabbe and especially LeVert back, are there higher goals, like the “P” word.
The players might talk about it as a goal, but Marks wouldn’t quite go there.
“I haven’t really ever commented on playoffs per se, but when you look at the grand scheme of things — where we are and where we’re headed — we’re headed in the right direction,” he noted.
“Our young guys, we’re obviously pretty proud of the development Kenny and the staff have done. So, again, we’d like to see that through,” Marks said. “We’d like to see how these guys continue to develop.”
That means Marks and the Nets will certainly try to get into the post-season, but will also look at what he has and how free agency and the Draft will fit with the current roster.
He gave no names when talking about free agency, but he left a strong hint that the Nets may very well pursue players like Tobias Harris and Kristaps Porzingis even though both have been dealt and their new teams will still hold key advantages —a larger contract in Harris case— and the right to match in that of Porzingis.
“I mean obviously I won’t comment on any particular players, but that’s the nature of the business,” Marks said. “The landscape is always changing and that’s our job. So we’ve got to be able to pivot. We’ve got to be able to say, all right, this is the new landscape, how are we going to deal with that? And that’s something our group has done a terrific job.”
He also had praise for his players as individuals and as a group.
“That’s what we want to get to, what we want to achieve. It goes to [being] player-led. They’ve done a heck of a job doing that, the coaching staff have done a great job,” he argued.
Prior to the game, Marks posed with the four players the Nets are sending to Charlotte: D’Angelo Russell to the All-Star Game; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen to the Rising Stars Challenge and Joe Harris to the three-point shootout. That’s a great showing considering that it was only three years ago next weekend the Nets decided to hand the reins to Marks and hope for the best. So far, so good.
In a New York Times profile written by Harvey Araton on Draft Day, Marks said he knew going in that it would be difficult and trying and long.
“The never-ending odyssey in this business,” Marks said, “is doing your homework and betting on people, their will and their drive.”
“We knew there were going to be some dark days,” Marks added. “But we all gave up good jobs because we thought we had a chance to build something special.”
- Nets GM won’t let surprising rise alter his long-range strategy - Brian Lewis - New York Post
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- Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks Sees Squad Going in Right Direction - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets