The Brooklyn Nets kickstarted what they hope is the beginning of a new and successful era Friday night at Barclays Center. Prior to a 109-98 win over the New York Knicks, Sean Marks made his debut as Nets general manager.
Marks and Dmitry Razumov, Mikhail Prokhorov’s right-hand man, addressed the media and the team’s plan going forward. Marks, who learned under Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford, hopes to instill many of the same practices that he has seen work effectively with what many consider the NBA’s model of consistency.
“I’m extremely happy with what I heard (from ownership) or else I wouldn’t be here,” Marks said. “It’s going to be my vision, but the staff that I bring in is going to be a collaborative approach. Once the the staff starts coming in, we’re all in this together. That’s the way it was done basically where I grew up in San Antonio.”
Marks also said that he plans to lean on his experience in many basketball organizations in the NBA and around the world. The Nets will not maintain control of their own first-round pick until 2019, making Marks’ job all the more difficult. “Draft picks are one way to build a team,” Marks said. “But there are other ways. Obviously, you can commit to free agency. Where I’ve learned, you’re also building in the European market and in free agency. Not having a draft pick as we stand right now (is difficult), but that too can change.”
An important part of the process will be roster evaluation. Ironically, the team made the announcement five hours before the NBA trade deadline. Rather than make a rash move, Marks opted to stand pant, and he will use the final 28 games of the 2015-16 season to gauge Brooklyn’s needs.
“It was an interesting 24 hours because the night before I was working for another team,” Marks added. “Sometimes the best thing you can do is not doing anything. For me, it’s wanting to get up here and evaluate this roster, and we didn’t want to jump to any conclusions and do anything drastic. (We wanted) to get our feet on the ground here and see what we’ve got.”
Marks, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, was originally drafted with the 44th pick of the 1998 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. He has played with the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets, and Portland Trail Blazers. In addition to serving as the assistant GM with San Antonio, Marks functioned as the general manager of the team’s D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros.
The Nets gave him a sneak preview of their potential with their performance against the Knicks. Six players scored in double-figures, including a game-high 33 points from center Brook Lopez. Lopez figures to be the franchise’s one constant moving forward. One can imagine the team trying to acquire a star point guard and spacing the floor with shooters around the one-time All-Star.
Defensively, the Nets enjoyed one of their better performances under Tony Brown. After allowing 32 points in the first quarter, Brooklyn limited New York to 43.9 percent shooting and just 32 points in the paint. The Nets also forced the Knicks into 16 turnovers.
For the Nets players, Marks’ hiring provides some closure on an open-ended process that has dragged on since early January.
“It is (a relief),” Lopez said. “You just keep moving forward. … We’re all very confident that the right decisions have been made. We’re 100 percent the Brooklyn Nets now. It’s an exciting thing to have.”
“(Marks told us) just to continue to stay the course,” forward Thaddeus Young said. “Change will come, and we’re looking into the future to get this first half behind us and just be ready to play. … As far as the GM, it puts a little bit of clarity on the situation ahead, and now it’s time to find us a head coach.”