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Sean Marks: It was team effort getting to playoffs, a ‘small stepping stone’ for Nets

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Before asking Sean Marks any question on his Joe and Evan Show Monday, Evan Roberts had a simple message for the Nets GM.

“I freaking love you!,” said Roberts. It got even more effusive after that, as Roberts ticked off all the Marks moves that got the Nets to the playoffs. Roberts finished by noting that not only did he “freakin’ love” Marks, every Nets fan does as well.

What was left for Marks to say?

“I’m very, very fortunate, and it starts with the group that we have here,” Marks said. “Because by no means is it one person making decisions. I think this is such a collaborative effort here.”

Collaborative, schollaborative! Still, the Nets GM spoke, as he always does, about how important his organization is to the rebuild, starting with how the 17 guys on the bench went from being paired with the Knicks in early December to being a post-season team by early April.

“You could tell the guys just needed to get over the cusp, and they were really close then,” Marks said of the slow start. “And it’s a credit to the players and the coaching staff because they never gave up. ... They just kept grinding and grinding and grinding away and pounding at that rock, and next thing you know you go on a nice little win streak here, and then mid-December, all of a sudden, the tide’s turned a little bit.”

And of course, he lavished praise on his partner in crime, Kenny Atkinson.

“Kenny’s done a terrific job. Absolutely terrific,” Marks said. “And it’s been great to see how he’s continued to improve, adapt, trust staff members, trust himself and stay true to who he is. Nothing’s changed. With Kenny, what I love about him, you see what he is. He’s grinding away on the court every single day. He puts in the long hours and so forth, and he right now epitomizes what this team stands for, which is competing on a nightly basis.”

And as we predicted, Marks would not concede that the Nets turnaround is complete. Far from it.

“It’s another great little stepping stone in how we’re trying to build this,” Marks said. “You have to try and go through teams that have had success, and they’ll show you how to perform, how to prepare and so forth.”

Marks did have strong praise for D’Angelo Russell, his big risk and now big reward. He wouldn’t talk extension (he can’t) but he did talk about DLo buying in.

“I think D’Angelo has shown that he’s a Net, and what he’s done out there for this whole year, he bought in completely,” Marks told Roberts. “His leadership skills have continued to grow and so forth. ...

“D’Angelo will have decisions to make. Obviously we, as an organization, will have decisions to make. But there’s something to be said for keeping your own guys, developing your own guys and continuity within the offense and so forth. But as you know, this is one of those businesses that things change quickly.”

He was asked if he was frustrated by an inability to acquire a stretch 4 at the trade deadline.

“Was I frustrated? I don’t know,” he started. “We looked at a few different scenarios and so forth, but I think we have to remember how we’re trying to build this thing and I think you have to be strategic and it comes at different times. If we’re trying to do it all at once, I think that’s when maybe we make a mistake.

“So if the right deal wasn’t to be made, we didn’t do it, knowing that we weren’t just one player away.”

And, no, this being Marks, there were no clues about other free agents.