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Marks on signings: ‘We’re obviously here to compete’

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after the Nets announced the signing of Michael Beasley —and shortly before they announced the signing of Jamal Crawford, Sean Marks spoke about what those signings mean: the Nets aren’t rolling over in Orlando.

“We’re obviously here to compete,” he told reporters on a Zoom call from the “bubble.” “We’re obviously here to … as it stands now we’re in the playoffs, and the objective is to compete as well as we can while we’re down here. And then the players we bring in like I mentioned before, how they continue to help develop the young guys we have, the Jarrett Allens, the Caris LeVerts, Rodi Kurucses, Dzanan Musas, and the list goes on.”

Jacque Vaughn echoed his boss.

“We wanted this group to know we’re here to win basketball games and to maximize this team,” Vaughn said.

The Nets didn’t have to go the route they chose, signing two veterans and a couple of younger players. They could have gone the full evaluation and development route, bringing in younger players ... and damn the win-loss record.

Instead they went for the mix. Now that Beasley and Crawford are official, they’re expected to sign 26-year-old Justin Anderson and 22-year-old Donta Hall soon. That would exhaust their four substitute slots. The Nets, of course, have lost three players to positive tests for the coronavirusSpencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince— and another, Wilson Chandler who opted out. With three other Nets rehabbing from surgeries, the Nets were down to 10 healthy players before they made their moves.

As for a report by Shams Charania that Beasley, 31, and Crawford, 40, are auditioning for roles on the 2020-21 team, Marks said he expects to evaluate all the additions.

“We’re always going to be evaluating players, how they fit not only with the group we have now but the group that’s expected to be part of this team next year and the year after that,” Marks said. “The evaluation process is ongoing for sure. Yes, you’re right, we’re evaluating right now for not only this year but next year’s free agency as well.”

Now, the Nets will have to wait till the four arrive in Orlando, get tested and undergo six days of quarantine ... longer than if they had traveled with the team. Tyler Johnson, Marks disclosed, will also have to quarantine longer because he didn’t travel with the team so he could deal with personal issues. Marks also confirmed that Beasley will miss the first five of the eight seeding games, sitting out a suspension for marijuana use.

Marks said he needs to get everyone on the court soon.

“We need to get these guys in front of our coaching staff and in front of each other to be honest,” Marks said. “Somebody joked today if we were going to have them wearing name tags because it is a new roster. What’s important is to get these guys at least on the court together bonding and playing together as soon as they can.”

The Nets have scrimmages on July 22, 25 and 27 before they re-open the season on July 31 vs. the Magic. Brooklyn has a half-game advantage over Orlando in the battle for the seventh seed.

The Nets realize that with few big men, even with the addition of Beasley and Hall, some adjustments must be made.

“We are going to be a little undersized, but I think for us you try and use it to your advantage,” Joe Harris said. “Especially on the offensive end. Spreading guys out, make bigs guard and then on the other end it’s all five fly to the ball, boxing out, that’s one of the areas you really miss a big.

“Obviously we’re fortunate to have (Allen), but JA can’t play 48 minutes so when he’s not in the game we have to make an emphasis on rebounding, everyone doing their job, boxing out their man and doing it by committee.”

Vaughn told reporters that he liked having two established NBA players —both with a history of getting buckets in batches— on his roster. He’s particularly high on Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year.

“What Jamal brings to the team is the ability to make shots. You also get veteran leadership,” Vaughn said on the Zoom call. “You get a guy, who, as hopefully we continue to advance while we’re here, has played in high-level games and is really comfortable being on the floor and can talk to multiple guys on our bench on how to be calm and how to preserve the opportunity that’s presented in front of them.”

On a personal level, Caris LeVert loved the Crawford pick-up, saying he had been one of his favorite players growing up. The two met when LeVert was recruited by Michigan, which is also Crawford’s alma mater.

“When I went to Michigan, he reached out to me, and we’ve kind of been big brother-little brother ever since,” he said. “I think he’ll definitely add some dynamics to the team. He’s a veteran in this league, he’s played for a lot of teams. I spoke to him yesterday actually. Can’t wait to get him out here.”

“We’re in a situation where we need bodies to play. We’re fortunate to pick up two really good players,” Harris said of Beasley and Crawford. “I think they’re both just going to be able to plug in right away. They’re smart, heady guys, and I think their transition will be pretty seamless for us.”

Marks also denied that Kevin Durant pushed for the signing of Beasley, a friend since childhood.

“I don’t think that’s fair to call Kevin on every single scenario we do,” Marks told reporters. “It’s probably well-documented over the course of the last few years that those two are pretty close, but that wasn’t a factor in this. We’re looking at who is available and the talent, and Mike certainly is that.”

Neither Marks nor Vaughn could speak about Donta Hall since he had not been signed by the time of the call but John Hollinger, the former Grizzlies basketball operations executive now with The Athletic, said of him “(He’s) like a shorter Jarrett Allen.” Although Hall is listed at 6’9” or 6’10”, he has a 7’5” wingspan and is, like Allen (and Nicolas Claxton), athletic if thin.