Brooklyn Nets Q&A With Jeff Peterson
Get to know Brooklyn's new assistant general manager
The Nets have welcomed Jeff Peterson to the front office as assistant general manager. Peterson spent the last seven seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, including the last three as assistant general manager.
We caught up with the new assistant general manager to chat about his basketball experiences and arrival in Brooklyn.
NETS.COM: You played at Iowa and Arkansas before finishing your college career at Florida State in 2011-12. What was your college basketball experience?
JEFF PETERSON: It was a great year for us as a team at Florida State. We won the ACC championship, which was the first time in school history, and we made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It wasn’t the conventional, ideal path, but in a lot of ways it’s helped me in the position I’m in now from a relationship standpoint, knowing a lot of college coaches and assistant coaches and being able to utilize them with their thoughts on players.
NETS.COM: When did you start considering a basketball career off the court?
JP: Not until after I graduated from Florida State. I had aspirations to play at the professional level, and I could have played overseas at lower levels. The opportunity came up with the Atlanta Hawks to be an intern, a seasonal assistant. Coach Hamilton from Florida State encouraged me to take a look at it. I prayed and it felt like that was the best route to go. It was tough at the time. I guess you could say I was retiring. I stopped playing, but not from an injury. It was tough to stop and let go from a competitive level.
NETS.COM: You arrived in Atlanta at the same time Kenny Atkinson was hired as an assistant coach. What were your first impressions of coach Atkinson?
JP: Just an unbelievable worker. Very good person. Somebody who grinds and who’s unselfish. He has this approach that he wants to be the best. He would be in the gym at 5 or 5:30 running barefoot on the court, and then he’s on the bike and he’s watching film. Just his dedication to being the best. It’s something I really respect and if you want to be successful, then that’s the level of work you’ve got to put into this thing. He’s relatable. He played. I think guys gravitate to him because of his level of authenticity.
NETS.COM: In Atlanta you rose from intern to assistant general manager over seven seasons. What were your roles and responsibilities with the Hawks?
JP: I was in charge of the scouting processes from the draft to trades and free agency. We had specialists to deal with the salary cap and contracts and analytics, and I would try to guide them into the areas we wanted to delve deeper into.
NETS.COM: What attracted you to joining the Nets?
JP: To start with, just Sean and Kenny’s vision. They want to be the best and compete at the highest level. They’re both innovative and they’re creative. They don’t want to settle. They want to keep pushing and find ways to get the Nets better and you could sense that. For Sean and Kenny to take the job under the circumstances they took the job and where they’ve been able to take the organization in this period of time is pretty impressive. They just found a way, whether it’s through the draft or being creative in free agency. It’s something I really wanted to come learn from both of those guys in terms of a leadership standpoint and running an organization and their thought process.
NETS.COM: How familiar are you with Brooklyn and how appealing was it to be able to live in New York City?
JP: When I was younger I just always wanted to live in New York. As I transitioned and got older I thought that had passed and I would never get the opportunity to. It’s neat at this age with my wife. We don’t have a ton of perspective on Brooklyn because we haven’t spent a ton of time here, but everybody we’ve spoken to around the league speaks so well of it.
NETS.COM: What’s your philosophy of team building?
JP: One of the biggest things is you want to make sure you put as much emphasis on getting the right people in the program, whether that’s from a staffing standpoint or a roster compositional standpoint. They’ve worked tremendously hard to create a culture here with good people. People who want to work and who want to be part of something bigger than themselves and can sacrifice and are unselfish. People who can fight through adversity. That aligns with how I think as well.
NETS.COM: You worked with Andy Birdsong in Atlanta, and now the two of you have come to Brooklyn as assistant general managers together. What was your experience working with him before, and how do you see the two of you working together here?
JP: We sat right by each other in the office. We had a small office in terms of the amount of people. Andy and I were fortunate from the beginning, we were able to assume a lot of responsibility. We’ve been able to develop and maintain a relationship over the years. It’s kind of neat to see it come full circle and we’re working together with a new organization. I think we complement each other well. Andy has different strengths than I do and I have different strengths from Andy. I think I’ll go back to the human element. We both really respect Sean and Kenny and what they’ve built here. In order for us to have as much success as we want we need each other. It’s not just Andy and I or whoever, it’s our entire group.
NETS.COM: How has it been getting started with the Nets?
JP: It’s been great. First and foremost, the staff here has been unbelievable in terms of welcoming myself and my wife Lauren. Very understanding. They’re willing to help in any way. Very genuine. That has been unbelievable. It’s made the transition much easier. I knew it would be a little bit of a challenge to make a move at this time of year. It’s hard. There’s never really a good time in the NBA. Hopefully, you have a great support system and people around you than can help you make the transition go as smoothly as possible, and that’s what Sean and his people have done for me.
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