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Sean Marks Looks Ahead to Brooklyn Nets' 2019-20 Season

Nets GM meets the media with training camp ready to tip off

The start of the eagerly anticipated 2019-20 NBA season is closing in for the Brooklyn Nets, with training camp set to tip off on Saturday. General manager Sean Marks met the media at HSS Training Center on Tuesday, with head coach Kenny Atkinson unable to attend as he accompanied Kyrie Irving for medical attention after the guard took an elbow in a morning pickup game.

“Just a case of doing due diligence,” said Marks, “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.”

Let’s take a look at five key topics Marks addressed as the new-look Nets get ready to get to work:

KEVIN DURANT’S TIMETABLE

Marks described Kevin Durant’s rehab as “going very well,” but said the expectation is that the forward will miss the entire season. The nine-time All-NBA selection signed with Brooklyn as a free agent after three seasons and two championships with Golden State. He injured his Achilles’ in the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

“Kevin controls the rehab,” said Marks. “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.”

NEW OWNERSHIP

The team welcomed new ownership and leadership last week as Joe Tsai completed his purchase of the franchise and Barclays Center, with David Levy taking over as CEO. Tsai originally purchased a 49 percent interest in the team in May 2018.

Marks was complimentary of the freedom the basketball operations group had under previous ownership and said he’s expecting a strong partnership with the new team.

“All my interactions with Joe and his family lead me to believe that this place is set up for success,” said Marks. “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.”

EVOLVING CULTURE

Culture has been a Brooklyn buzzword since Marks arrived in February 2016 in the midst of a 21-win season — “The first couple years here that was really the only thing we could maybe hang our hats to,” said Marks — and the Nets have maintained that through a lot of roster turnover during the team’s rebuild.

Incorporating eight new players to the 15-man roster is not a dramatic difference from some previous training camps, but in this case the Nets are adding more established and accomplished veterans in Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan, all with All-NBA honors on their resume.

“Everybody’s been around and has been driving this culture together,” said Marks. “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.”

EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS

Coming off 42 wins and a playoff appearance, Marks brought in premier players while keeping the bulk of the team’s young core in place. The Nets’ playoff drive after an 8-18 start last season — that’s a 34-22 finish — made them one of the league’s best stories. And they did it with rising star Caris LeVert missing three months and Spencer Dinwiddie missing a month.

LeVert, Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen are now joined by Irving, Durant, Jordan and Taurean Prince.

“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,” said Marks. “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.”

FILLING OUT THE ROSTER

Marks called it “really tough” that the Nets will be without forward Wilson Chandler for 25 games, saying that the veteran free agent was someone the Nets expected to contribute. While the Nets have the limit of 15 players under contract, they can add a player for a 20-game window after five regular season games.

While Marks said such a player might not be identified early or brought into training camp, the possibility was open of adding a player to fill that spot. With Durant also out, the Nets would have 13 roster players — not counting two-ways — if they didn’t utilize the space.

“Yeah, we would definitely look at that,” said Marks. “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.”

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