BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Sean Marks sat down with reporters and discussed the offseason. Here’s the 36+ minutes transcribed with full audio below:
“Kenny apologizes he will not be here today. He had to step out and accompany Kyrie to see a doctor as Kyrie got hit with an inadvertent elbow during pick-up this morning.”
“It literally happened 30 minutes ago. I wouldn’t want to speculate at all. I think this is just a case of doing due diligence, Kyrie goes and gets checked out like we would do with anyone else and we always send staff with them. This is a great opportunity for Kenny to be with him too.”
Being able to add stars, how much did keeping core in place matter?
“I’m not sure I want to comment on what it meant for them because I’d be, I guess, speculating a little bit there too. For us, as you build something and you build something sustainable and you hope that the trajectory of the Nets continues like that, we wanted to make sure we had some young pieces in place, some good solid veterans in place, guys that have been here and been around our culture, guys that have started it and helped build it over the last three years. It was important not to give away too much of that and continue to build. You never know how it’s going to play out. I think if you leverage too much, you never know what’s going to happen.
How is KD’s rehab going and if he’ll play this season?
“His rehab is going very well. With Kevin, I think what we’re going to say is the expectations are that he’ll be out for the year. We’re not going to plan on him playing. His rehab will obviously be predetermined over the course of the next few months, how he goes with the performance team, but ultimately Kevin will have a large say in when he comes back and how he’s feeling. The expectation now is for him to be out for the year.”
Core here and signed long-term, what does that mean?
“I think a couple of things. One, it’s a credit to everyone from our scouting group, analytics group, you name it, because they’ve found some pieces that we’ve all been willing to sign up long-term. These pieces have also wanted to come here and re-sign with us long-term. With that, definitely there are different expectations as to how you go about building and the wins and losses and so forth, but it’s also a great challenge for us. It’s a great challenge when you implement eight new players to your group, you implement a new staff, and you say how much of the culture changes and how much faster does it change and how does our system have to change and so forth along with all of that.”
In Vegas, you left the door open for KD to play, why has the expectation changed?
“Nothing has really changed. This is just an easier way to say that Kevin controls the rehab. He’s attacking this like no other. I’ve been excited to see it, I think we all have, how he’s approached this rehab, which has been great, very refreshing and energizing to the whole group. At the end of the day, this is a long-term plan here. This was never about this next season. This is about getting an elite athlete back to elite physical shape on the court whatever that takes.”
Has kevin told you he wants to play this season or does he want to take cautious appraoch – and when he”s rehabbing what”s his presence around team?
“In terms of his rehab, all I can mention is how hard he’s attacked it. And been extremely thorough with what he’s done. I think you’re looking at one of the great competitors out there so I think I’d be premised if I said he probably doesn’t want to play. I think it’s obvious he wants to play. But I think there’s more at stake here. This is, again, a long-term approach. There’s a lot of people with a lot of sweat equity in this from the rehab perspective and so forth, so I think it will be a group that makes the decision and obviously kevin included as to when and how that return is made. His presence, again, I think that will be a little predetermined by his rehab. How that is progressing along. I think we’ve already seen him in the gym here, he’s been supporting our guys. I would assume he’ll be around as much as possible and we look forward to having his presence around in the gym and so forth.”
You picked right coach for first three years; you have a different group now; what did you see in first three years tells you that you have the right coach in years 4-6?
“I think right off the bat Kenny and his entire staff have been up to the challenge. The whole organization has been. As we’ve said from Day one, when you;’re that competitive, you’re in this environment, this market, you have the same values, values based, what we always talk about, a culture driver, that comes from Kenny, it comes from myself but it comes from everybody that touches this organization. I think everybody realizes that we’re up for a challenge. Kenny has specifically shown the growth. I think we’ve all witnessed, a first time head coach coming in from Day One, and nobody can ever ARGUE that he’s not passionate about it, not improving along the way. He’s his biggest critic, nobody puts more man hours in there, and no one is more demanding of himself than Kenny. And that’s literally all I can ask for, especially when it comes to the product that’s on the floor and how they respond to it, I think what we’ve seen is a group of guys get behind Kenny. Whether it was Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, I expect nothing more this year because he’s (can’t hear) out there which is great for our guys.”
The bar has been raised... How high is the bar in your eyes?
“A lot depends on who is available and when and so forth. I’ve taken a stance in the past where it’s been player led and player driven. I like that and I think we all do. It’s refreshing to where I think if you had Spencer up here next to me, I think he’s already mentioned what he expects. That’s the competitive nature of our group. So why would I ever limit them? I love the fact that they have this internal drive amongst each other as well. And their expectations are, my guess, would be pretty high. I don’t know that all the guys we signed in the offseason are coming here for mediocrity. That’s not part of it. This is why we went in. That;s why ownership showed the ability to get behind us. And support the vision that we’ve outlined”
Culture and expectations that come with it?
“I think culture’s definitely a buzzword. You’ve probably heard me say it ad nauseam, but it’s important. If you think about the first couple years here that was really the only thing we could maybe hang out hats to, put our fingerprints all over, so it’s definitely important. It’s no less important now than it ever has been. I think this is now a challenge for everybody here. Everybody’s been around and has been driving this culture together. This is not one or two guys, it’s an army. Between the whole group here, from players to staff to everybody, they’ll be driving this culture. It’s going to be an interesting challenge. It’s going to be nice to see guys come in from other organizations and see what they bring to the table, because by no means was our culture perfect. Culture’s always evolving. Everybody’s culture should be evolving. To be quite frank, if you’re not, you’re probably staying stagnant, everybody else is going to be passing you by. So it’s going to be important how we implement a little bit of a new culture, how we implement the new guys, new coaching staff, new staff from all around into this. And then how they start driving it and what they add to the culture.”
On getting Kyrie and replacing his style with D’Angelo Russells:
“I think we all know they’re different skill sets. I don’t want to talk too much about system and personnel. I’d rather, I think Kenny’s gonna have an opportunity to talk, maybe on media day and address those sort of questions. I think it’s well-versed as to what Kyrie brings in terms of his speed and athleticism and shooting touch and vice versa. And then same thing, what we miss from not having D’Angelo around as well. We wish D’Lo all the best, but we’re obviously pretty excited about having Kyrie in here and I think it’s been, we’ve seen it out on the court already in these pickup games — the leadership, the work ethic and the competitive nature that he has brought to the group has been terrific.”
“It’s definitely difficult. There’s never really those opportunities to take a deep sigh and say, ‘OK great.’ We know this challenge is just starting now. The challenge is a little different than it was years one, two and three. It’s certainly, expectations are different. I think we’re up for the challenge. It’s a players league. Players have shown that. They’re dictating really more than GMs, more than coaches, how and when and where they want to go and so forth. I think it’s been an interesting summer in that regard. All we can do is put out the best environment that we see fit for these guys; coach them, develop them, do what we do as well as we do and hopefully these guys gravitate and want to be a part of it.”
Did you see Kyrie get hurt?
“Sounds like a horror movie. I don’t want to go into details like that. It was definitely not the graphic portrayal that you sort of outlined there. I think this is a case of us being cautious with all our guys. A stray, inadvertent elbow playing pickup games, yes I did see it, those type of plays happen frequently in the same game. This is just a case where he caught the elbow and now we’re going to do our due diligence to check him out.”
Can you attract younger fans/take over New York?
“That’ll happen and probably already has happened organically with the group of guys we have in, a younger group. We’re certainly learning a lot from our players, I am by no means a millennial, so they’re teaching me things all the time. Definitely with Kyrie and Kevin there will be a different fan base, there will be a growing fan base. But I think that’s hopefully going to be a product of what we put on the court, how our guys play together, how our guys compete. Nothing’s changed just because you have star-level talent. Nothing’s changed in this city if you don’t compete, if you don’t play at a high level, it’s just probably not gonna work. So I think what Kenny and I have said from day one is we’re pretty demanding of the guys, the expectations, and these guys demand that of each other. Not just the new guys coming in, but the guys that are the holdovers for the last few years.”
On the loss of Wilson Chandler:
“Any time you lose a player that you’ve planned on really participating and contributing a fair amount for you, that’s really tough. It’s definitely a blow.”
Will you use 20-game window to add someone?
“Yeah, we would definitely look at that. Like always, you keep all your options open as long as you can. I think that’s what we’ll do. We’ve seen in the last few years, our scouts and analytic group have done a heck of a job finding some diamonds in the rough and they’ve done a heck of a job developing. Our roster is always going to be somewhat flexible. We’re not quite as flexible as we have been the last few years, but we definitely will use that window to look at opportunities.”
Truth to rumors about KD/Kyrie recruiting Carmelo Anthony?
“I wouldn’t comment on any particular players that aren’t here on our team. I will say we will do our due diligence on everybody. We’ve looked at multiple players, we’ve brought in several players, whether it was throughout the summer for pickup and they’ve come in on their own accord. It’s documented that guys were playing together in L.A. (with Anthony), so for us, I think we’ll use our Exhibit 10s, we’ll use training camp in which to try and figure it out, whether it’s two-way spots and so forth. We’ll use that to figure out where we go.”
Have you spoken to Kurucs about charges and how has it impacted the team?
“I’m pretty limited on what I can share, but to be honest, those allegations we take extremely serious as a franchise. That goes from ownership, myself to all staff throughout here, we do take them seriously. We’re definitely going to let this play out in court. We’ll support the NBA in their investigation, and obviously, we’ll support the authorities and how that goes. My conversation with Rodi was more along the lines of we’re here for support. You’re part of our family. We’re here to support you and your family, and we’re here when you need us. If you need to talk, you need to cry, whatever it may be, we’re all here for you. And I think you’ve kind of seen that already with what some of the players have said so far.”
Want a 16th man before training camp?
“It’s not necessary. I think the way the NBA market is going, if you canvass the league, you look at other teams out there that have to make decisions on their roster sizes and so forth. We’ll be watching that, we’ll be watching the market all over the place. If it’s somebody we can bring into camp, great. If not, I think we will definitely do our due diligence.”
Do you expect Kevin Durant to travel to China?
“As it stands now, it’s too early to say who would go to China if we’re talking injuries and rehab process. Then, we’ll be pretty clear as to how he’s going. From somewhat of an outside looking in at this early juncture if I was to say flying a long way, in and out of planes, is that the best thing for his rehab? I’m not sure. But again, we’ll wait and see how that goes. He’s progressing well, but it’s a little too early.”
What did you learn about what happened between Durant and Golden State when he returned to play game 5 of the finals and was hurt, whose fault was it?
“Honestly, we’ve never talked with him about that situation at Golden State. I don’t think he wants to talk about it. We certainly don’t. That’s in the past. I think there’s definitely things we can all learn, and we are strategic with how a lot of guys have returned to play from these injuries, so to speak. But I think where Kevin is focused is right here. He’s focused on his rehab, we’re focused on putting the best people around him to help him and make sure that rehab goes to plan.”
On negotiating with Taurean Prince:
“I think that’s a good question. We did our due diligence on Taurean. We’re very excited to have him as part of the Nets family and I think that the more we see him, the more comfortable we’ll get with him. And I think he’ll get more comfortable with us, too. It’s a two-way street. I think he needs to come in here and adapt to the system, the coaching, the style, the city, you name it. All the things. We want to put our best forward, and we’ll see how it goes.”
“Well, I don’t know if it was fortunate, maybe I was unfortunate, but I felt DeAndre up close and personal several times, so I know how big and strong he is. And to have that and have DJ have his presence a part of our group, I think that’s something we’re all excited about. He’s extremely vocal, a defensive mindset, really anchoring your defense back there, and I think you look at it from a development standpoint. Where can his game go to? You never limit him, but also, how can he help develop some of our young guys in terms of Jarrett. And for Jarrett to be battling him day-in and day-out, and for DJ to be sharing some of the knowledge he’s learned, that’s terrific when you’re able to do that. We’re expecting big things from DJ.”
Message to fanbase in terms of short and longterm goals:
“We’ve never been focused on winning over New York, or being the team in New York. We’ve got different goals than that. I think if you go out and build something that’s sustainable, you put an entertaining group on the floor that’s passionate and competes every night, people will automatically gravitate toward that. People will want to be a part of that. We’ve seen the fan base come in droves and say, ‘I’ve gotta get behind this group.’ They’re passionate. If you take Caris LeVert for example, they’re passionate to see how this young man competes on a nightly basis and gives everything out on the floor. They’re behind his struggles and his rehab plans. So there’s nice stories along the way, and this will be some pretty good wins for this group. He’s a Net, and I want to be part of the Nets. I want to support Caris, for example.
“I think we would be in the wrong business if we said our goal is to be sort of sustainable and along for the ride of mediocrity. None of those words exist with us. We’re gonna compete at the highest level, and we expect the ultimate goal. That is why we’re all in this business. Whether that comes whenever, but we’re definitely not gonna limit ourselves and say we have to do it then or we have to do it here. Part of the fun with all this is the journey along the way.”
How much of an asset will Joe Tsai be to make this a more attractive destination:
“I think Michael and Dimitri were great partners. We all enjoyed having them around for the last 3 years. They gave us complete control and we were able to run this thing the way we wanted to do it, which was terrific. Now with Joe coming on board, not only Joe but David Levy, there have been some changes along the way, but I think it has to be a partnership. It has to be clear communication across all levels. Nobody;s working in silos here. It’s business and basketball, and basketball and business, not business or basketball. And all my interactions with Joe and his family lead me to believe that this place is set up for success. It starts at the top and Joe’s at the top. His family values and the way he conducts his own business, his personal life. I’ve personally seen him give talks at Alibaba. He can come give one of those talks any time he wants. We can all learn from that. It’s gonna be great.
Youthful core – how does leadership dynamic change going forward?
“I think someone will organically take charge. One thing Kenny has done here from Day One is that he’s had a leadership group and it’s never been up to one or two people. The leaders will rise to the occasion and Kenny’s very good at figuring out who they are and empowering them. Again, we go back to saying how it’s a player’s league, these guys want to have ownership. You name how we fly, the hotels we stay in, what plays we’re running out of an ATO. These guys have been around a long time. There’s not many defenses, whether it’s Kevin or Kyrie, haven’t seen thrown at them. So, from a leadership perspective, on the court but also off the court, being these young guys we have. Things are different now. You’re in the limelight, you’re in the spotlight, how you conduct yourself off the court is super important. You know, we haven’t spoken about Garrett Temple. Kyrie, Garrett, Kevin, DJ – all the guys that have come in this year that are going to be able to contribute to that.”
Joe in World Cup
“In regards to the workload, we’ve got to be very careful with a guy like that who has carried a really big load for the last two to three months. What an incredible opportunity for Joe to be out there representing his country, I think he did a marvelous job. Kenny and I were out there to see it firsthand and see how he conducted himself but also how other players gravitated towards him. We’re extremely proud that Joe’s a Net and the level he played at and the opportunity he was given.”
Caris and what he saw before draft
“He’s always competed at every level. I enjoyed watching his game at Michigan, I loved how he got his teammates involved, he’s a very unselfish player. The tenacity in which he plays at – diving on the floor and so forth. I’d rather try and tone that down, then try and bring a guy up to that level. He’s certainly a guy that leads by example, always has, very clear when he did suffer his injury just kind of how the team reallied behind him. I expect nothing less, that’s who Caris is. Credit his mother and his aunt.”
Who has taken a stride this summer/might surprise this summer?
“As Kenny always said before, we’re banking on somebody. Somebody has to. Every team plays above expectations and so forth. They always have somebody that rises to the occasion, puts the work in the summer. I can honestly go down and name a few guys, Taurean [Prince] had a really good summer, obviously Joe Harris had a great summer, Caris, again, look he’s healthy all summer long. Jarrett Allen’s been in the gym religiously. Again, I’d hate to sort of pick one or two guys out. We know how Spencer conducts himself, he’s the first guy in the gym. Caris is back here 10pm on a nightly basis getting more work in. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had one or two guys.”
Are you worried about China hangover and slow start?
“Yeah, I think it’s definitely something we need to be well aware of and well-versed in. We’re educating our players as much as we can in sleep deprivation and you’re flying all that way and your recovery on the return. But it’s also what are you doing above-and-beyond: Are you hydrating enough, are you eating right, are you sleeping right on your own. And it starts now; it doesn’t start when you go to China. So it’s the education piece right now. I was fortunate that I’ve been on several teams that have done these trips before, and yes, you start off slow sometimes, definitely. But at the end of the day it’s what else are you getting out of these trips. You’re spreading the brand, you’re spreading NBA basketball, it’s an incredible opportunity for our players to bond. They’re going to a foreign county where they’re going to be forced to sit down and break bread together. They’re going to be forced to have conversations together, and experience – for be quite frank – some life-changing experiences together. And these are the things we’ll remember as we go about developing young men, these are the things that are going to be just as important as winning a game in October or November.”
How long have guys been back? And how good is the talent?
‘I think I would say sort of the last three weeks guys have been coming in and getting around the performance team, being around the coaching staff on a pretty regular basis. Again getting together, Getting climatized to Brooklyn and getting housing situations all sort of settled. The talent that I’ve witnessed on the floor obviously is pretty good, there’s no question there. But I think I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie, seeing the banter and just sitting back and watching two or three guys form a bond over there, and then the next day there are another three or four. And then the connections are happening not only on the court but off the court; I enjoy witnessing that. I enjoy some of our younger guys that have been around here a little longer, they’re the ones speaking up saying “no, this is the way we like to do it, what about this, how about this.” And then you have guys like Kyrie, who who’s been religious here for three weeks, which has been great, coming in and just raising the bar from a competitive standpoint.”
Caris was best player in playoffs. What did you see in him that let him do that?
“I think it’s probably his believe in himself. Caris knows that he can never question have I put enough work in. so he’s put the work in, so here’s the ball, go get it done. I think he’s never shied away from taking the last shot, he’s never shied away from a moment. And he wants to compete at a high level. I can remember Kenny and I when we were beside his bed, and I think we were all a little stunned, like “Oh my god, What do you say to this young man?” And he was the one, he said “I’ll be back better than ever don’t worry about me.” Its that type of belief, one, its galvanizing and it brings everybody together. It certainly brought Kenny and myself and his agent and his mom together that day. That’s the type of person he is. He does for the team.”