A year ago, Sean Marks probably imagined spending this 4th of July weekend basking in Brooklyn success, reveling in all the accomplishments — Finals appearance, championship, whatever — his team of superstars has achieved. . The 21-22 season was meant to be the culmination of a three-year journey, a dream come true. Instead, it turned into a nightmare.
The Nets are publicly revealed. Kevin Durant asked for a trade. Kyrie Irving opted for his contract, largely because the desperate Lakers were the only team interested in making a sign and a trade for him. Last summer, Marks said confidently that contract extensions for Irving and James Harden would be done before the start of training camp. “Signed, sealed and delivered,” Marks said. Today, Harden is gone, while Durant and Irving could be the next to go.
It’s been six years since Marks took the GM job in Brooklyn and make no mistake, his decisions this summer will define his tenure. Marks’ ride has been relatively smooth so far. He inherited the NBA’s Titanic, a shaken franchise rerouting draft picks, and was successful with it. He harnessed talents like Jarrett Allen, Caris The Green and Spencer Dinwiddie late in the draft. It was Marks, along with Kenny Atkinson, who rehabilitated D’Angelo Russell. He took a team to 21 playoff victories in his third full season, turning the Nets, not the Knickson the New York team of choice for Durant and Irving in free agency.
Yet a title, once seemingly within reach, has never seemed so far away. Marks cannot be held responsible for the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s no strategy to prepare for a citywide vaccination mandate and no script for what to do when Irving has decided to ignore it. Irving’s absence and its fallout poisoned the Nets’ season before it started.
Yet mistakes were made. There was Atkinson, canned 62 games in the season 19-20, let go before Durant played a game for him. Atkinson could have been replaced by Jacque Vaughn, the deeply respected veteran who went 7-3 to replace Atkinson in the COVID-interrupted season. Instead, Marks tabbed Steve Nash, the ex-MVP whose relationship with Durant—Nash spent part of his position playing parachute days in golden state working as a freelance assistant – helped him land the job. It was a splashy, if not jaw-dropping rental. Nash has been good, helpful, but in the playoffs last season it was Ime Udoka, a former Nets assistant, who was dragging the circles around him.
There was the trade for Harden. Harden had his moments in Brooklyn, particularly early on, when Harden emerged in 2021 as the leading contender for MVP. But Harden quickly soured in Brooklyn – Irving’s unavailability last season would have frustrated him – and even before that Harden, one of the NBA’s top scorers, looked like a player who lost a step. . With Harden, the Nets got greedy. They wanted stars and were willing to sacrifice valuable role players (Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert) and a cache of draft picks to get one. Harden has played less than a full season of games in Brooklyn. Allen became an All-Star last season in Cleveland where LeVert, a regular 17 ppg scorer, joined him. Marks landed Ben Simmons in a Harden trade last February, also picking up some draft capital, but Simmons hasn’t played a game for Brooklyn and with the Nets suddenly open for business, it’s possible he won’t. ever do.
Scroll to continue
Instead of presiding over a championship-level franchise, Marks must now deconstruct one. He set a high price for Durant — two All-Star-level players and a bucket of draft picks, sources familiar with the Nets price said. IF– although getting it might be difficult. Mass transports are often the result of desperation. The Mowers necessary Paul George sign Kawhi Leonard in 2019, which is why Oklahoma City was able to extract Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round picks for him. Minnesota necessary a defensive anchor to support a team with a pair of budding superstars, which justified sending four first-round picks to Utah for Rudy Gobert last week.
Is there a team Needs During? Phoenix could. Chris Paul is aging and the Suns don’t seem interested in giving Deandre Ayton the full contract he’s looking for. Toronto would certainly offer some of its young players and a reserve of choice. Beyond that, the market is troubled. It’s also complicated: NBA rules state that a team cannot have two players on maximum rookie level extensions acquired by trade. The Nets have Simmons, who takes other players (Bam Adebayo, Andre Wiggins) out of the mix.
There’s a bolder move Marks might have to consider. Don’t Trade During. The Nets were considered a title contender before Durant’s trade demand sparked a firecracker in the front office; SI Sportsbook had Brooklyn at plus-600, just behind Golden State for the best chance of winning a championship. There’s no market for Irving unless Dallas gets desperate or the Nets are ready to absorb Russell Westbrook from the Lakers. Bringing Durant back comes with risks, but does anyone believe Durant, with four years left on his contract, would sit out? Brooklyn will re-sign Patty Mills and Nicolas Claxton and trade a first-round pick for three-and-D winger Royce O’Neale. There’s enough talent, more than enough, to win.
The responsibility lies with Marks. Building the nets was once Marks’ legacy. Now it’s a matter of deciding if, when and how to rip them. The honeymoon spanned six years and was filled with hit after hit. For Sean Marks, however, the honeymoon is over.
More NBA coverage: