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Brooklyn Nets Summer League: Sean Marks Talks Trades and Free Agents

Flexibility key to Dwight Howard trade and buyout

LAS VEGAS — It took Sean Marks a little over a minute during his halftime media session at NBA Summer League on Friday afternoon to get to the key word, and it was this:

Flexibilty.

That’s at the heart of the moves Marks has made over the last few weeks which he was able to discuss publicly for the first time on Friday. The Nets completed their trade with the Charlotte Hornets that sent away center Timofey Mozgov in exchange for center Dwight Howard and followed by agreeing to a buyout with Howard.

They’ve also reached agreements with two free agents, the first their own Joe Harris and the other a new arrival, center Ed Davis.

“Obviously creating cap space is definitely a priority for us,” said Marks in summing up the pair of Howard transactions, acknowledging that a potential buyout was in the cards from the start.

While Mozgov had an additional year at $16 million on his contract after this, the upcoming season is the last on Howard’s existing deal. The buyout from the $24 million obligation will chop into the cap hit there for 2018-19.

“Dwight’s a terrific player and has been a terrific player in this league for a long time,” said Marks. “But I think this is something we mutually agree that this would give him an opportunity elsewhere.”

While the buyout should give the Nets upward of $10 million in cap space this summer, the trading of Mozgov opens up substantial space for the summer of 2019, depending on what the Nets do over the next few weeks.

“We’ll figure out how much cap space we have, and when that’s fully determined then from there we’ll move forward with how we use it,” said Marks. “We’ll use it strategically whether it’s on players or whether it’s on trades and acquisitions from other teams. So we’ll figure that out.”

In acquiring Davis on a reported one-year deal for under $5 million, the Nets maintained that flexibility while fortifying an important spot. The Nets regularly went small at the center spot behind rookie starter Jarrett Allen over the second half of the season. At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, Davis becomes the second tallest player on the roster behind the 6-11 Allen and slides smoothly into a backup role there.

“He’s certainly a culture fit, the way he works,” said Marks. “Some of the intangibles he brings off the court that people don’t necessarily, that aren’t spoken about, what he does in the locker room and so forth. When you’re trying to create a culture, that’s really important. You’re trying to create a toughness, a grit. Ed brings all that.

“And then of course, on top of that is his play. We need an enforcer type. We need toughness, and Ed brings a lot of that to our group. He’s been around winning organizations so for him to come in and bring some of that expertise and experience will be great for our group and our younger guys.”

Marks and the Nets went to a second year to keep Harris on a reported $16 million contract, a commitment that speaks to the guard’s growth over two seasons and the team’s belief in him.

“There’s a fine line in terms of how valuable your space is as opposed to weighing the space and the fits you want to build with,” said Marks. “Joe is one of those guys that brings a lot of the intangibles to our team on and off the court. We’ve all been very impressed with Joe as a person and how he’s developed and how he continues to grow. He’ll be a part of our team. There was no apprehension on a multiyear deal with Joe.”

Over the second half of the season, Harris shot 46.7 percent from 3-point range and finished at 41.9 percent for the year, just one of the career highs he established, along with points per game (10.8), rebounds (3.3), assists (1.6), field goal percentage (49.1) and free throw percentage (82.7).

“Joe is a guy that unanimously guys want to play with,” said Marks. “Not just in Brooklyn. I think that was probably seen around the league. He brings, obviously his skill on the court, but guys want to be around that and want to be around the person that Joe is, which is important to us.”

Marks also addressed the return of point guard Jeremy Lin, speaking optimistically about his rehab process and expecting him to be 100 percent and ready to go for training camp. In Lin’s absence following his opening night injury last season, Spencer Dinwiddie turned in a breakout year while D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert filled the point guard spot, with LeVert showing marked progress as a playmaker in his second pro season.

“As we’ve seen before, it’s been handy to have a couple of extra point guards,” said Marks. “There’s absolutely no need for us to go through and rush to do any particular deals to solve the so-called glut at point guard or get a shooting forward. This is just how do we build this thing and hopefully not affect long-term, the long-term growth.”

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