In remote interviews with Ian Eagle (via YES We’re Here) and Chris Carrino (via the Nets official site) Sean Marks talked about how he, his players and staff are trying to get through the personal and professional crisis and his hopes of “getting the ball rolling again,” as he told Eagle.
While admitting, “I’m not sure I have the exact right answer as to whether we’re doing it right or not.” he spoke at length to both broadcasters about communicating with players, preparing for a possible return-to-play, looking back at this year, the status of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving’s rehabs and what he’s looking for in a head coach ... a “leader of men” who can “take the Nets to the next level.”
But the bottom line for the Nets GM is to “show how much we care, whether its the players or the staff.”
Marks also shared the early hours of the NBA’s suspension and how he and the team, stuck in San Francisco, had to cope as they rushed to get home to Brooklyn. In doing so, he gave a shoutout to Dr. Michael S. Farber, the Nets team physician who was on the West Coast swing. As he told Carrino...
“I don’t think anyone could have written a script on how all of this was going to transpire. I will say that I am eternally grateful for the group we had there on the ground there in San Francisco and how we mobilized as quick as we did in all aspects from just having Dr. Farber on the team flight which was a really a god send.
“He could, I guess you could say, temper some things down and put things in a little bit of normalcy and answer questions that players and staff had. for us to have a level of competence and get back to Brooklyn as quick as we could was paramount. You were on the trip. It was a matter of getting planes there. Our plane had already left to pick up other teams and so forth. There was definitely a little bit of a waiting game there and a sense of urgency to get families back together and get everyone back to Brooklyn and New York as soon as possible and wait from there.
“It’s something we’ve pushed since we’ve been here, family first.”
A couple of days later, the Nets were tested for the coronavirus and four of them, including Kevin Durant, were positive. All are healthy now.
SInce then, Marks told Eagle, he and the coaching staff have been in regular touch with the players, part of his plan to give everyone some sense of normalcy in a season filled with change and anxiety.
“Me personally, I’m in touch with the players on an individual basis every couple of days. I know Jacque and the coaching staff have sort of divyed it up and are doing the same thing —once a day, every couple of days. The performance team has really taken this to another level of creative heights via Zoom and FaceTime and so forth ... and the players have the option to join in when it fits their schedule. We’re just trying to get our guys a little sense of normalcy and get them into some sort of rhythm but also have the understanding that their priority should be —and rightfully so— their health and their families’ health. We don’t want to take away any of that as well.”
In both interview, Marks spoke highly of Jacque Vaughn and his staff and the job they’re doing during the crisis, He spoke as well about what he wants in the next head coach, whether it’s Vaughn or someone from the outside.
In talking with Eagle, he praised how Vaughn and his staff have dealt with things and reiterated that he hopes the group can get enough time to prove themselves.
“We’ve spent many many days looking at that. I hope we can get a lot longer to give Jacque and staff an appropriate amount of time to bond with these players. Obviously, they know each other well and see if the system fits is out on the court and so forth. I can attest to the work this staff is doing right now and that’s been great to see. Ive been in a lot of their meetings and seeing how they’re preparing for a return to play and that’s been terrific to see what these guys are doing behind the scenes . They all have great rapport with players.
“I want to make sure that Jacque and the staff ahve every single opportunity they possibly can.”
In talking with Carrino, Marks laid out just what he wants from in a head coach, specifically noting that he wants someone who can help take the Nets to the next level. He also gave a shoutout to Kenny Atkinson.
“His fingerprints are all over this organization and we’ll be eternally grateful there. As we move into this next stage, we’ll be looking for a leader, a leader of men, someone who can take this group and continue what we’ve already built, having relationships with the players, understand what the organization is at the precipice of and who the key players are —and I don’t just mean the players on the court but who the players are in the organization. They need to have an understanding of the performance team, the ownership group and so forth and all of the things that go into taking the Brooklyn Nets to another level.
“And again, I hope that Jacque and the group there have an opportunity. They’ve shown an incredible amount of resiliency not only when they were playing a month or so ago, but in the short time we’ve been out with the communication and so forth with our players and staff.”
As for KD and Kyrie, Marks told Eagle that their rehabs are going well, but noted that you can make the argument that with the HSS Training Center shuttered, they’re not where they should be.
“Speaking of both those guys, both are doing well. I think with them as well as our entire group, there is a level of anxiety not knowing when are we going to return, what will it look like when re return and so forth. Specifically with Kevin, this rehab and return to practice was really looking great. He was on the floor again. A lot people have seen that short little video that was posted and so forth. It was remarkable to see the way he was progressing. Under this current situation with the circumstances,
“I could almost make the argument that they set our guys back a little bit. Obviously HSS is closed and we can’t get into our practice facility. So it’s kind of put everything on hold but I think that’s okay. Again, I don’t want to force these guys or even put any type of prressure on them to return to play knowing they’re juggling their family life, their own health situations. I’ve talked to Ky multiple times. He seems to be doing very very well, rehabbing in his apartment in Brooklyn and between here and Jersey. So he’s doing well. I know both those guys are itching to get back but get back at 100 percent.”
He also told Eagle the suspension has given he and his staff an opportunity to review the season, with all its ups-and-downs and change.
“We’ve done quite a bit of that looking back. Again, it’s been an interesting debate because we’ve had a variety of different lineups out there with all the injuries and what not and so forth.
“What we’re doing right now is trying to figure out what this team will look like when we come back. Are they coming back at full strength? If so, it may look like this but have they had enough time to play and practice together. My answer to that would probably be no. That bond, that camaraderie... the things that go on behind the scenes, whether it’s the locker room banter, going out to dinner together, whatever it may be, hanging out together in hotel rooms, the bus rides... we’re missing a little bit of that. Just how much the FaceTme and Zoom sessions make up for that. Nobody knows.”
Looking forward, he noted there’s a lot of unknowns and so they’re examining various scenarios while at the same time looking at things like the NBA Draft and free agency, whenever that occurs.
“I think we have to prepare for every different outcome. I think its a heck of an opportunity to dig deep and start critiquing all your protocols and some of the processes that we had in place before. Its very rare when you get an opportunity to sit back down and really listen to staff get feedback both ways with staff. We’ve got some time on our hands now to obviously prepare for the draft and free agency and so forth without knowing the exact dates and times for that.
That kind of preparation, he told Carrino, has positive a psychological effect. Again, it’s about creating a sense of normalcy.
“I had a conversation with our scouts a couple of days ago. This is an incredible challenge for us and an incredible opportunity and something we need to seize. Let’s not forget obviously what’s going on behind the scenes, what’s out in the forefront to be honest —you turn on a news channel and you can’t help but see some pretty horrific images —but it’s about us trying to find some sense of normalcy and that is trust the process, trust what we’ve done the last nine months, last 18 months leading into this college season. So our scouts are prepared.
“We’re doing what a lot of companies are doing now, having these virtual chats and so forth, getting to see each other and so forth, but getting back in the swing of things in these draft meetings, these free agency meetings and just planning out what the future may look like has certainly been beneficial for our group.”
It’s all about perspective, Marks noting,
“it’s certainly unprecedented times. We play a really silly game compared to what happening now ... The resilience embedded in this city is like none other. I am a strategic optimist.”
Marks also had a message for fans, telling Eagle...
“Be safe, hang in there. We miss you guys yelling and screaming and so forth. This too shall pass.”