The Brooklyn Nets are on the good side of a conversation again, the fans can thank Sean Marks for that.
While the Knicks continue bringing laughter to sports talk radio and wherever there’s an office water cooler, the Nets are turning heads.
One move at a time, Marks has put Brooklyn back on the city’s radar.
This isn’t to conclude the Knicks aren’t trying to escape their reputation as a punchline, it’s just their efforts remain lukewarm at best.
The Knicks did finally pull the plug on Phil Jackson as their team president. Their resistance, however, to relinquish control of basketball personnel to top candidate David Griffin reeked of the same old Knicks.
Knicks team owner James Dolan signed Jackson to a five-year $60 million deal, he came onto the job with 11 championship rings as a coach and zero experience in the front office.
Griffin, former general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, built a team that’s won three consecutive Eastern Conference titles. That earned him the right to ask for more control than the Knicks reportedly were unwilling to give.
Passing on the experienced Griffin was an example of the Knicks once again taking one step forward and then two steps backwards. The man they just fired, with no previous experience for the job, just left town with $24 million remaining on his contract.
Meanwhile it’s a different story across the bridge where Marks isn’t bringing the Nets back with flashy signings or attention-grabbing headlines. In just a year and a half as general manager, he’s strategically positioned the Nets towards respectability again.
In this age of NBA free agency, big spending, and poison pill contracts, Marks is making the Nets relevant again through creativity and business savvy.
The trade of franchise center Brook Lopez to the Lakers was a necessary move which brought them back a potential piece for the future in 21-year old guard D’Angelo Russell.
Brooklyn, in what’s beginning to become a Marks specialty, rolled the dice on a contract offer to restricted free agent Otto Porter of the Washington Wizards. The Wizards ended up matching the offer, but Marks didn’t just waive the towel on this summer, instead he went to the next plan.
Trading Justin Hamilton to the Toronto Raptors for DeMarre Carroll and a first- and second- round draft picks should be filed under one of the steals of the summer. The Nets needed another veteran who could start or come off the bench, shoot the three, and play defense. Carroll not only fits the description, he’s also played for head coach Kenny Atkinson before.
When you throw in two much-needed draft picks for 2018, Marks is working his checklist like a technician.
Marks has been everything the Nets were hoping when team owner Mikhail Prokhorov tabbed him to rebuild his franchise. Fans, for the Knicks and Nets, are beginning to take notice.
Prokhorov, perhaps learning from his past in trying to spend his way to a championship, gave the keys to Marks and has mostly stayed out of his way.
And, unlike Dolan’s Knicks, Prokhorov didn’t have to break the bank. While Knicks fans are suffering from years of big spending with little to no results, the Nets are emerging as a team with vision, a plan, and the right basketball people in place to execute.
Brooklyn is still a few more moves away from making a run at becoming the talk of the town, but there’s definitely a buzz growing around Barclays.
We can all thank Sean Marks for that.