In talking with Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno on WFAN Tuesday afternoon, Sean Marks once again said that the biggest free agency decision in team history was indeed a surprise ... “news to all of off in the office.”
Then, once Kevin Durant revealed where he was going, his reasoning became known and it was simple: he loved the way the Nets play basketball.
Nets staffers had gathered at HSS Training Center on Sunday, June 30, Marks told Roberts, when things began to break with Durant’s free agency. At first, it appeared KD was going to embark on a series of meetings, then suddenly announced he would be posting his decision at 6 p.m., the official start of free agency.
“What we knew was we were either getting a teleconference call with Kevin that night or we were going to potentially get a meeting,” Marks said. “We’d seen some media reports earlier in the day that Kevin had crossed several teams off his list and we were still one of them (being considered). And those reports were there for everybody to read. And when Kevin posted it on The Boardroom Instagram site, that was news to all of us in the office.”
The scene at the training facility quickly turned festive. In addition to Durant, the Nets received commitments from Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan to complete what Adrian Wojnarowski called “The Clean Sweep.” Durant, who later made an appearance at the Sunset Park facility, told Marks why he had chosen Brooklyn.
“I love the system. I love how you guys play,” Durant said, according to Marks. ”We could never take you guys lightly … If we were up 10 with two minutes to go, we knew that didn’t mean anything against Brooklyn.
Added Marks: “That’s a real credit to the competitive environment that Kenny (Atkinson) has really brought. He spearheaded that.”
Yes, Marks said, it’s all very exciting.
“I’m not going to lie, there’s been a couple of times I’ve been definitely excited about -- Kevin for sure, the whole group and really the challenge of getting all these guys together on the same page and watching how it unfolds,” Marks told Roberts. “I think that’s the magic and that’s the real special piece where you see elite talent ... want to play together and see who’s going to sacrifice what and who’s going to bring what to the table and just see how they all mesh.”
Marks said the Nets will not push Durant to return, but again wouldn’t rule anything out.
“I have no idea,” he said of a date for a possible Durant return to the court. “We’re certainly not going to rush him back. There’s going to be absolutely none of that. We have far too much invested in him, and we owe it to Kevin to get him back to 100 percent.”
He admitted that after Durant went down with a ruptured achilles in Game 5 of the Finals, he and Kenny Atkinson spoke on the phone.
“I felt devastated for the guy -- for Kevin and for Golden State, to be at that point and that juncture in their season and to go through that,” he said.
”And I remember, like (coach) Kenny (Atkinson) and I immediately had a conversation on the phone, and we were just, ‘Wow, that’s brutal! Can you believe that just happened?’ And I don’t think either one of us said anything about us and him being a target initially.
“As the dust sort of settles and you get together with your group and your performance team and you sort of say, ‘OK, what does this look like? If this does become a reality for us, what are we facing here? What are we looking like?’ I’m going to bet on my performance team here every day - these guys have worked wonders, they know exactly what they’re doing.”
Indeed, Marks relayed what happened at HSS when he asked the performance team, by show of hands, who wanted to work with KD on his rehab.
“To a man or woman, every single person raised their hand and was like, ‘I want that challenge,’” Marks told Roberts.
Marks also spoke about Irving’s controversial exit from Boston after a disappointing season. Many Boston fans and pundits (but not all) blamed Irving. Marks said the Nets will do their due diligence.
“I think you certainly have to try and figure out what happened, why did it happen, what can we learn from this?” Marks said.
“But first and foremost -- and probably the most important piece -- is to sit down and give the young man his time and say, ‘Kyrie, hey look, how do we make this a success for you? What do you need from us? This is how we’re going to play. This is our system and so forth. This is how we think you could benefit from being in our system and so forth and within our culture, and this how you can help drive it. What do you think to that?’”
Marks also spoke about how the Nets considered pairing Irving and D’Angelo Russell, but ultimately decided it wouldn’t work.
“That (was) certainly an option,” Marks said. “I’m not sure it would have made sense to have two guys in there that really are deserving of trying to run their team.”
Marks also praised DLo and said if they didn’t wind up with their recruiting bonanza, they would have happily moved on with him.
“D’Angelo was amazing when he was here. Did everything we asked and fully bought into the culture and development piece. [He] really matured and was somebody we were quite happy to move into the future with.”
What will change? Everything, but not a lot.
“I think everything has to change, slightly. We haven’t had that type of talent - and that’s across the board - I’ll put all of our free agents in there, not just the two of those guys that you mentioned,” said the GM.
“Things are going to change, things are going to adapt, they have to…. (The new players) have to start driving the culture, that’s what it’s all about. We have to learn from them, these guys have been in the league, they’re elite level players. We have to see what we can learn from them as well. But I can assure you that Kenny is not going to be anything different than who he is.
”The great thing is when Kyrie and KD and (DeAndre Jordan) and (Garrett Temple) all came in here, they knew what to expect, they knew what Kenny is, they talked about it and they loved the emotion he showed.”
Thanks to Nets fan @ChrisLavinio who tracked the Marks interview and tweeted out quotes.
- On WFAN: Nets GM Marks Reflects On Big Offseason (with audio) - WFAN
- Nets’ Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant’s rehab, ‘clean slate’ for Kyrie Irving - Ian Begley - SNY
- Nets GM Sean Marks sees chance of Kevin Durant playing in upcoming season - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ system drew Kevin Durant to Brooklyn: GM Sean Marks - Michael Blinn - New York Post
- KD said he was sold on Nets’ system, GM says - ESPN
- Sean Marks Q&A: How the Nets’ Calculated Risks Landed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving - Chris Mannix - Sports Illustrated