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Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks Visits YES Network's Nets Hot Stove

Nets a month away from debut of Kevin Durant and new coach Steve Nash

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks joined Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady on the debut of YES Network’s Nets Hot Stove Thursday evening, discussing Kevin Durant, the upcoming NBA season and more.

Here are some of the highlights of Marks’ visit:

ON THE RETURN OF KEVIN DURANT

The Nets knew there would be a wait for Kevin Durant’s Brooklyn debut, with the 10-time All-Star joining the team in the summer of 2019 coming off an NBA Finals Achilles’ injury. The interrupted and extended 2019-20 season stretched that all out, but with the league scheduled to tip off the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22 and training camp beginning in the first week of December, that moment is almost here.

In the interim, there have been plenty of virtual glances of Durant in workouts with Nets teammates and others throughout the long downtime.

“I don’t think anybody is more excited than Kevin himself to get back on the court,” said Marks. “He’s mentioned numerous times that he cannot wait to hopefully be back at Barclays and wearing the Nets jersey and being out there, but as it pertains to how those guys look, what we’re seeing of them, they’ve been back in our gym now for a couple days and being around, the feedback from the performance team and how they’ve looked, their preparing has been terrific. I know they’re hungry. It goes back to what these guys set out to try and accomplish a year ago, where they said, ‘Hey look, I want to come to Brooklyn. I want to be a part of this. I want to build something sustainable here and do something special.’ They’re putting themselves in a great place to succeed.

“As I think I’ve said a couple times before, it’s been nothing short of remarkable to watch Kevin’s development and the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation over the course of the last year. We’re all chomping at the bit and very excited to see him out there, see the entire group out there, but I think that pales in comparison to how he’s feeling.”

ON EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SEASON

New Nets coach Steve Nash has expressed championship-level expectations since he got the job, and he reiterated that during an appearance on ESPN during Wednesday night’s NBA Draft. Marks took over a 21-win team in 2016, and by 2019 Brooklyn was back in the playoffs, soon to be followed by the acquisitions of Durant and Irving that offered the possibility to building further on that.

“It started five years ago, when you would like to try and build something special. I don’t think anybody wants to be part of something that’s mediocre,” said Marks. “I think we’ve done that, and it’s started with the people that have come here. The people that have joined in. The people that have sacrificed. Now, I think we all realize that we have a long, long way to go. We haven’t done anything yet. There may be some things that look decent on paper, but it’s the ability that hopefully now we can take another step forward. That starts from ownership, from our staff, players, all the way through here. There’s going to be a level of sacrifice and there’s a level of excitement. I think it’s important that we own what the goals are at the end of this, and that’s what we all signed up for.”

ON STEVE NASH AND COACHING STAFF

Marks made a big splash when he hired Hall of Fame point guard Nash as Brooklyn’s new coach, and over the last two months they’ve filled out the first-time coach’s staff with some bold-face names: Mike D’Antoni, Nash’s former head coach in Phoenix, as well as his Suns teammate Amar’e Stoudemire, plus highly regarded assistant Ime Udoka, among other additions.

“He’s orchestrated teams and ran teams before from a point guard position, and I think he’s doing exactly the same thing here,” said Marks of Nash’s first two months on the job. “He’s making a lot of people feel really good. There’s a great environment around here. People are really collaborating and I think the humility with which he played with is so evident when he walks into our office. He asks a lot of questions. Involves a lot of people and honestly, the knowledge which he’s been able to give to not only myself and the front office but the performance team and also our players. It’s an exciting time and he has an incredible group of guys that are going to be helping him. The guys that have joined on here to be part of that staff, it’s going to be exciting and there’s a wealth of knowledge there.”

ON THIS WEEK

The NBA launched a crush of activity when it opened the transaction window on Monday, followed by Wednesday’s NBA draft and the start of free agency on Friday, all in anticipation of training camps getting going less than two weeks from now. It’s an unprecedented rush, unseen before even in lockout-shortened seasons where at least the draft was held on its normal schedule.

“This is a time that we always look forward to,” said Marks. “We always look forward to the draft, we look forward to free agency, and we look forward to the beginning of camp. Very rarely do those things all sort of happen in the space of 10 days. You don’t want to make any excuses, because we’ve had — let’s be honest — we’ve had seven, eight months to prepare for this. I felt very comfortable last night and the build-up to the draft and of course now we’ve got some hard yards ahead of us where we prepare for camp, prepare for free agency and really put the final touches on what the team may look like.”

ON THE UPCOMING SEASON

After stitching together a way to finish the 2019-20 season by returning to play on the NBA Campus in Orlando after a four-month layoff last summer, the league faces a new challenge for the 2020-21 season. Teams will be back in home arenas, but with few or no fans depending on the market, working off a schedule that has been set only for the first half of the shortened 72-game schedule.

“We’re going to have to be nimble,” said Marks. “Just by having that flexible narrative throughout, whether it’s training camp, the season. We’re not quite sure how we’re going to play. Are we playing in front of fans? Where are we playing? What the actual schedule looks like, and we’ll have to have some patience with that. But I think the fact that we went through a bubble before and the group that did that was nothing short of amazing, what we saw there and how that group came together from a staff perspective and players. That will certainly carry forward into what we’re trying to do over the course of the next six to eight months.”

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