Catching Up With Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks
Nets GM weighs in as team navigates NBA hiatus
The NBA is on hold, three weeks after the season was suspended on March 11 with the Brooklyn Nets in the midst of a four-game West Coast trip, coming off a 104-102 win over the Los Angeles Lakers the night before.
Wednesday morning, Nets GM Sean Marks connected with the media on a conference call to update how the team has responded to events and how they are looking forward.
“Like all of us, the rest of New York and really the rest of the globe we’re trying to deal with this as best we can,” said Marks. “I have really been pleasantly surprised and pretty proud with how our guys and our staff have acted over the last three weeks, month of this, starting way back in Los Angeles when we left to go to Golden State. So it’s been a very fluid situation, something that changes if not daily, maybe sometimes hourly.
“The group has certainly showed the fortitude and resilience and the care for one another and the surrounding Brooklyn neighborhood and the community, which has been great. We know we have a long way to go here and it’s going to take every single person, every staff member, every player, but seeing what some of these guys and staff have been doing behind the scenes, not only for one another but for their local small businesses and communities, has been remarkable, especially because nobody’s doing it for PR, it’s these guys doing it on their own, which has been great.”
Here are six key points Marks addressed on Wednesday:
On March 14, the team announced that four players had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Marks said all four players are currently symptom free, along with the entire basketball operations department and the full travel party from the California trip the Nets were on when the season was halted.
“So far, everybody is healthy,” said Marks. “The guys that tested positive have cleared their 14 days self-isolation and quarantine. They are still practicing with social distancing like the rest of us. They are cleared like everybody, like the rest of the team and the staff right now.”
GETTING THE NBA BACK ON THE COURT
The NBA’s next step is up in the air, which has left room for every scenario imaginable to be speculated about in media circles, from playing the regular season and/or playoffs deep into the summer, playing without fans, playing in a quarantined single site, or cancelling the season entirely.
“That’s probably something I can’t comment on and say exactly what and where we think,” said Marks. “I think there’s just so many different scenarios. What I think we’ve seen before with commissioner Silver and the league, they have a proven track record of being very creative, being very fluid, having a collaborative approach to any different circumstance they’ve had. So it would not surprise me in the slightest when they do come out with whatever the next couple of months look like, we’ll all be in the know here, and we’ll all have had a voice and had a say in it. I think they’re turning over every rock they possibly can to play and looking at every different outcome. From a team perspective, all I can say is we have to be preparing for everything, and that goes for keeping the schedule as-is to every single outcome you can possibly have.”
The Nets parted ways with Kenny Atkinson less than a week before the season was suspended, playing just two games under Jacque Vaughn. Their next move is in a holding pattern like so many other aspects of front office operations, considering there’s no certainty as to whether the season will continue.
“We are not reaching out to anybody right now,” said Marks of initiating a coaching search. “That would completely not be fair to our group. I think what I’m seeing so far from how our group -- with Jacque and his assistants -- how they’re working through this and how they’re reaching out to players and their collaborative approach within the organization has been great. I think it’s extremely important that everybody has not only my support but the owner’s support and front office’s support during this time. That’s our priority.”
The Nets have operated throughout the season with the expectation that Kevin Durant would not return from his Achilles’ injury until the 2020-21 season, and they declared Kyrie Irving out for the season prior to his late-February shoulder surgery. If the season does resume, extending well beyond its typical calendar, does that open the door for either to return?
“I think something we have to think about is our facilities are closed and just by getting time off does that let your body heal," said Marks. "There are several of our players that need our facilities, that need game reps, that need to be playing and you can take the other side of this and say this hiatus has shifted rehabilitation back and it's slowed that.”
Added Marks: “I don't think that's fair to those athletes nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. I think everyone is dealing with bigger items, far more pressing items. I do know that those two players are continuing their rehab. But when you're practicing social distancing and you're in self-isolation I haven't physically seen them in three or four weeks so it's difficult for me to gauge as well as the performance team to where they are.”
The 2020 NBA Draft remains scheduled for June 25. If it does go forward on that date, all of the traditional pre-draft process that takes place after the end of the college basketball season, from camps to individual workouts and interviews, will not be available to teams as they prep to make their picks.
“I think the biggest challenge for everybody is potentially the lack of exposure we would have to these athletes,” said Marks. “Usually, there is a drawn-out process of individual workouts, agent workouts, obviously the combine, draft interviews, bringing them into your facility and obviously talking to them, but also getting your performance team and your coaches to get your hands on them and evaluate them. That may not be the case this year, we just don't know. So that needs to be a scenario where everybody needs to be prepared for every different outcome. But this is a case where you trust the work that your scouting department has done over the last year to two years and I have the utmost faith in our group.”
If there’s no certainty about whether or when teams will return to the court to complete the 2019-20 season, add the free agency timeline to the great unknowns. You can’t have an offseason until the season is concluded, one way or another. There’s also the potential of next season’s salary cap coming in lower than originally expected due to lower revenues this season from lost games.
It will be an important offseason for the Nets, as they look forward to getting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back on the court next season and weigh the right moves with the rest of the roster.
“It goes back to opportunity, and we are going to have opportunities like everybody else is over the course of the next four or five months and whenever free agency begins and the schedule comes up," said Marks. "Until then, I would only be guessing as to dates. But, I do think it is extremely important that we treat the time extremely wisely right now and we are as efficient as we possibly can in terms of doing our due diligence and scouting and watching video because that's all we really can do. And again, preparing financially for what a variety of different scenarios may look like will obviously help in free agency. But all 30 teams are going to be in the same boat here. Nobody is going to have a leg up on anybody else. We all know there is a level of uncertainty and we have to prepare as best we can. Every roster looks a little different and I can assure you, just like in every other free agency when we go back to work, all 30 teams' rosters are going to look a little different than they do now.”
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