In the WFAN season preview, Sean Marks told Evan Roberts that the organization spoke to Kyrie Irving about his media boycott and although the Nets GM provided no details about the conversations, he described Irving as “back out there.”
“We heard Kyrie out, and we sat with him and talked to him and his reps and asked how we could help,” said Marks, adding, “He knows his obligations there, and as we saw, when he did address the media, there aren’t many out there better than him at that. I think in this day and age, guys are responsible for their own platform and brand, and it’s good to see he’s back out there. He’s very eloquent and well put-together.”
After he and the team were fined $25,000 each over Irving’s refusal on “several occasions” to participate in “Media WeeK” interviews, Irving spoke at length —17 minutes— in a Nets Zoom call with more than two dozen media on Monday. In that conversation, Irving addressed his decision to go with a statement instead of talking with the media as well as other on-the-court issues. (That hasn’t stopped the criticism. On Thursday, Charles Barkley went on a rant about Irving’s refusal to meet with the media, apparently unaware of Monday’s call.)
On the issue of “load management,” Marks said it was likely that the Nets would monitor Kevin Durant’s —and other players’ — minutes during the season in hopes of keeping them fresh for the playoffs.
“We’re aware we’ll probably have to save him from himself sometimes because he’s a competitor, but we also know what he’s been through the last 18 months,” said Marks, noting how resolute KD was in his rehabilitation.
“I’ve never seen anyone attack rehab the way he did. He has a great feel for his own body, but we’ll have to be fluid monitoring not only him, but all our guys. We want to be healthy later on in the year and into the playoffs.”
The NBA has cracked down on teams not playing stars in nationally televised contests, reportedly threatening fines up to $100,000, making “load management” a costly exercise.
As for the Nets championship ambitions, Marks was a bit ambiguous. No, the 2020-21 season shouldn’t be seen as “championship or bust,” but the yes, the Nets have built their roster and coaching staff to meet “championship characteristics.”
“I never put it that way; what I would say is that we own the expectations, and no one is more upfront about that than the guys we have. They all know why they’re here, and it’s not right to just put that on the back burner,” said Marks when asked about “championship or bust” expectations.
“We’re doing everything we can to have those championship characteristics, and that is without a doubt led by our players. Steve Nash has owned that from the get-go, and we’ll see where the chips fall. Winning a title anywhere takes preparation and accountability, but also health and a little luck.”
Like Steve Nash, Marks also described the team roster as more or less a work in progress. Asked by Roberts if the roster is “done,” Marks wouldn’t discuss specifics but did suggest that Nets will be aggressive if he need be. On the other hand, he again noted that he likes his team’s depth and flexibility.
“It’s probably pretty close,” he said of the roster. “I don’t think anything is ever done, and we’re never going to just sit back and rest; we have to continue to monitor the entire group. We are deep, but we may need that this year to cope with uncertain circumstances. It benefits us to have so many guys waiting in the wings to pick up slack and fight for their roles on this team.”
Indeed, the Nets have 19 players in camp and must get down to 17 — 15 standard NBA deals and two two-ways— by Monday. Of the 19, 15 players are on standard deals and Jeremiah Martin is on the second year of a two-year two-way. The other three —Reggie Perry, Elie Okobo and Chris Chiozza — are on Exhibit 10 contracts, training camp deals.
As for the perceived roster imbalance, that is more guards than bigs, Marks didn’t sound concerned.
“I think we’re versatile,” he argued. “We have several guys who can play different positions, and we’re not sure how we’re going to play. Probably the first month of the season we’ll be creative to figure out what lineups work best and when, depending who is playing well and who we’re playing against and what the best fit is.”