Dmitry Razumov

Nets Notes: Culture, Marks, Tanking, Noel

In his latest piece for, Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the culture Sean Marks has created in Brooklyn since he was hired as the Nets’ general manager.

As Lowe details, the Nets were leaning toward hiring Bryan Colangelo as their GM over Marks back in February 2016, but team chairman Dmitry Razumov heard from several respected execs who praised Marks during that All-Star weekend, and had a long talk with Spurs GM R.C. Buford that helped convince the franchise Marks was the man for the job.

Since joining the Nets, Marks has attempted to turn the club into one players want to be a part of, creating a “serious but welcoming” atmosphere, as well as a sense of closeness and community within the organization. The club has also prioritized sports science treatment, keeping its players on minutes restrictions and having them fill out daily questionnaires about sleep, soreness, and diet. “I could play another five years doing what they do,” said Randy Foye, who spent 2016/17 with the Nets.

Lowe’s entire piece on the Nets is worth the read, particularly for more of those tidbits on the work that Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have done to overhaul the team’s culture. Here are a few of the highlights from the story:

  • Razumov says team ownership is “ready to be patient” and would be fine with a 25-win season in 2017/18 if the Nets’ young players continue to develop and take positive steps forward.
  • The Nets will finally control their first-round pick again in 2019, and there has been talk within the franchise of tanking in 2018/19 in order to create an opportunity to draft a blue-chip prospect. Although Atkinson acknowledges that there’s  “faction” of people within the organization who believe that’s the way to go, it’s not the plan right now. “I don’t think it is in the cards to tank,” Marks said, per Lowe. “The goal is to compete and win games.”
  • The Nets hope their young core – which remains a work in progress – will help the team recruit veteran free agents, like the Sixers were able to do this summer. “We hope free agents say, ‘We want to play with those young bucks,'” Marks said.
  • The Sixers and Nets had brief trade discussions involving Nerlens Noel last season, but Brooklyn had no interest in giving up much for a player the team could pursue in free agency, sources tell Lowe. Noel currently remains a restricted free agent, though the Nets no longer have the cap room necessary to pursue him.
  • Despite recent rumors about Mikhail Prokhorov considering selling a controlling interest in the Nets, he continues to market only a minority stake in the team, according to Razumov.
  • According to Lowe, the NBA has talked about the possibility of banning the ability to swap picks in between drafts in which a team owes its picks to another team. That possibility hasn’t been discussed at length yet, but such a rule would have prevented the Nets from including a 2017 pick-swap in their deal with the Celtics when Boston was already receiving Brooklyn’s 2016 and 2018 first-rounders.

Nets Likely To Part Ways With Andrea Bargnani

TUESDAY, 6:59am: Colangelo and Rosas are still in the race for the GM job, Wojnarowski clarifies (on Twitter).

MONDAY, 11:24am: Andrea Bargnani is among the players almost certain to work a buyout with their respective teams if they’re not traded by Thursday’s 2pm Central deadline, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. It’s not surprising to see David Lee and J.J. Hickson as the other names on Wojnarowski’s short list of buyout candidates, since Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck reported earlier this month that the Celtics intended to either trade Lee or do a buyout, while the Nuggets have apparently been shopping Hickson. Bargnani is in the first season of a two-year deal for the minimum salary that includes a player option for next season and is averaging only 13.8 minutes per game, by far the fewest of his 10-year NBA career.

Still, it’s difficult to gauge just what the Nets will do with their personnel, since they’re in the midst of hiring a new GM. Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas and Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks continue to talk with the team as it moves toward second interviews this week, league sources told Wojnarowski. The general consensus around the NBA as of Friday held that former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo would ultimately emerge with the gig, as Beck reported then, though Colangelo and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas aren’t necessarily out of the running, Wojnarowski indicates. Chris Broussard of ESPN on Thursday identified Colangelo, Karnisovas and Marks as the front-runners for the job that’s been vacant since the Nets removed Billy King from the position last month.

Regardless of whom the Nets choose as GM, he’ll be only one part of a committee that will hire the team’s next coach, Wojnarowski also writes. Various reports have indicated that some combination of team chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark and owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s holding company president Irina Pavlova comprise the committee in charge of the GM search. The new GM will join that group in its efforts to find a coach, according to Wojnarowski. The Nets hope to draw from a pool of coaching candidates that includes NBA head coaching veterans Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. Mike Mazzeo and Marc Stein reported last month that Brooklyn had strong interest in Thibodeau, and Stein later identified Messina as a candidate, but this appears to be the first legitimate link between the Nets and Van Gundy.

Whomever ends up coaching the Nets likely won’t have Bargnani, unless the team speeds through the process. March 1st represents the de facto buyout deadline, since it’s the last day any player can hit waivers and still be eligible to play for another NBA team in the postseason.

Atlantic Notes: Ainge, Colangelo, Calipari, Jackson

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talks weekly with Suns GM Ryan McDonough, as McDonough tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, and it’s clear that the pair maintain a strong relationship from their days in the Celtics front office. Boston and Phoenix hooked up on three trades last season.

“We worked together for a number of years and those guys have become some of my best friends,” McDonough said to Washburn about the Celtics brass. “Sometimes the calls are trade-related, sometimes the calls are social. I have a great relationship with those guys. I appreciate everything that Danny, [owners] Steve [Pagliuca], and Wyc [Grousbeck] did for my career, and regardless where I am the Celtics will always be my second-favorite team.”

See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s obvious that Sixers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo is doing all the major decision-making now instead of GM Sam Hinkie, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who wonders whether Hinkie will get credit should the team become successful in the near future.
  • A league source suggested to Fred Kerber of the New York Post that John Calipari will become a more appealing option to the Nets the longer they search for a GM and coach. The team isn’t seriously considering Calipari at this point, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck said Friday. Kerber also names team chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark and Prokhorov’s holding company president Irina Pavlova as members of the team’s search committee. That adds further confusion to an existing set of conflicting reports about who’s conducting the search.
  • Kristaps Porzingis unsurprisingly gets an A-plus in the midseason grades that Marc Berman of the New York Post hands out for the Knicks, but team president Phil Jackson receives only a C-minus, even though his decision to draft Porzingis has worked out. A record around .500 won’t cut it, and some of the team’s signings, including the addition of Kevin Seraphin that coach Derek Fisher lobbied for, have been duds, Berman opines, justifying the low grade for Jackson.

Nets Eye Danny Ferry For GM Job

FRIDAY, 8:31am: Ferry “isn’t the likeliest candidate” for the position, a source told Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

THURSDAY, 7:58am: The Nets are looking at Danny Ferry as they search for their next GM, sources tell Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Bondy words his report a bit differently in his full story, where he writes that two sources outside the direct search told him they expect the team to look at Ferry as well as Bryan Colangelo, whom Marc Stein and Mike Mazzeo of reported earlier that the Nets are considering. Bondy’s tweet says the team is indeed looking at both Ferry and Colangelo. In any case, no one has emerged as the top candidate and the search has just begun, Bondy hears.

It’s no shock to see Ferry emerge as a candidate, as TNT’s David Aldridge pointed to the ties between Ferry and former GM Billy King, who remains with the organization. The Nets are indeed consulting King about the candidates to replace him in the GM job, Bondy hears from sources, confirming an earlier report that owner Mikhail Prokhorov had downplayed. Ferry’s father, Bob Ferry, serves as a scout for the Nets, and Prokhorov interviewed Danny Ferry for the GM job in 2010 before hiring King.

The younger Ferry comes with the baggage of the racially charged comments he uttered in a 2014 conference call while GM of the Hawks that led to a prolonged leave of absence and ultimately a buyout that ended his three-year tenure in Atlanta this past spring. Ferry nonetheless earned plaudits for his construction of last season’s 60-win Hawks team, and his close ties to the Spurs organization, where he served as a player and later a front office official, can’t hurt. He put together rosters that won 66 and 61 games in back-to-back years as GM of the Cavs, a job he held from 2005 to 2010.

John Calipari has also drawn mention as a candidate for the Nets’ front office vacancy as well as their open coaching job, but Prokhorov indicated that he’d rather have separate people in those positions. CEO Brett Yormark, a Calipari advocate, is one of three Nets officials conducting the search, according to Bondy, along with team chairman Dmitry Razumov and board member Sergey Kushchenko, who’s a trusted aide to Prokhorov. That conflicts with a report from Brian Windhorst of, who wrote that Razumov and Irina Pavlova, president of Prokhorov’s ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment holding company, were in charge of the search. In any case, Prokhorov wants to hire a GM before he hires a coach, league sources tell Bondy.

Do you think the Nets should hire Ferry? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Latest On Nets, John Calipari

University of Kentucky coach John Calipari is the primary target of the Nets, who fired coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned GM Billy King on Sunday, several sources close to Calipari and the team told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News late Sunday. However, Calipari took to Twitter this morning to brush off that and other rumors connecting him to the Nets, writing, “You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time. I am not negotiating with ANYBODY. My total focus is on this team and winning the next game” (Twitter links). Calipari later said during a conference call that he appreciates the Kentucky job and is “humbled” to be in it, note Josh Newman and Adam Zagoria of

The remark about negotiation seemed to be in response to an overnight report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, who heard from league sources who say Calipari has told the Nets, as well as the Kings, that it would take an offer of at least 10 years and $120MM. He’d also demand that he be head coach and have complete control of the front office, as Brian Windhorst of confirms. Prokhorov today indicated that he’d prefer a separate coach and GM. Assistant GM Frank Zanin is running the front office for the time being and assistant coach Tony Brown is the interim head coach.

Nets CEO Brett Yormark is reportedly prepared to give Calipari whatever he wants, but while he appears to have more influence than in the past, he’s not seen as a major contributor to the decision-making on the next Nets front office chief, according to Windhorst. People who have spoken to the Nets recently instead believe Nets chairman Dmitry Razumov and Irina Pavlova, president of Prokhorov’s ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment holding company and liaison between the owner and team management, will run the search for a new GM and coach, Windhorst hears. A belief is growing across the league that Nets board member Sergey Kushchenko increasingly has Prokhorov’s ear, according to Windhorst. Prokhorov said today that he’ll spend more time than usual in the U.S. while searching for a new GM and coach and told commissioner Adam Silver that he and Razumov intend to take a more hands-on approach during the transition and going forward, as Silver told Harvey Araton of The New York Times.

King, whom the Nets will reassign within the organization, won’t be directly involved in the club’s search for a GM, in spite of reports to the contrary, though he can offer suggestions “as a friend,” Prokhorov said today, tweets Chris Mannix of The ex-GM has a close relationship with Razumov, as Mike Mazzeo of points out, though the organization views the 2013 trade to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that happened on King’s watch as a “massive mistake,” Mazzeo writes. The scribe also intimates that King’s fallout with former Nets coach Jason Kidd prompted the GM not to re-sign Pierce, who shares agent Jeff Schwartz with Kidd.

The $120MM is figure that Calipari is reportedly seeking is up somewhat from the $11MM-plus that Calipari told minority owners of the Kings that he wanted this summer, as Wojnarowski also reports. The Cavs offered 10 years and $80MM in 2014, but he turned that down, Wojnarowski adds. Calipari receives nearly annual extensions from Kentucky, having signed one this past spring worth $54MM plus bonuses, Windhorst notes. Calipari’s previous coaching relationships with several prominent future free agents represent his allure to NBA teams, but some people close to his former Kentucky players say they’re reluctant to again endure the coach’s caustic style, according to Wojnarowski. Some around Calipari would prefer he join the Kings rather than the Nets, who have more limited maneuverability to improve, Wojnarowski also writes.

Many people around the league “believe there is more smoke than fire” when it comes to the idea of Calipari returning to the NBA, but his failed tenure with the Nets in the late 1990s is his greatest regret in basketball, sources tell Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Atlantic Rumors: Nets, Celtics, J.R. Smith

Mikhail Prokhorov, in London for today’s Nets-Hawks game, said that he was never close to making changes when the Nets were playing their worst this season, and the owner also expressed confidence in GM Billy King and coach Jason Kidd. Prokhorov added that he has no intention of selling the team anytime soon. Newsday’s Roderick Boone and Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News round up his comments via Twitter, and there’s more from Nets ownership suite among the day’s news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Gerald Wallace is upset with his role on the Celtics, and also feels the Nets “disrespected” him by trading him to a rebuilding club, observes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald“This season is a slap in the face, having to change my game and fine-tune it,” Wallace said. “First of all, it has to come mentally. You accept your situation, but there’s two sides to your brain. One side is fighting the other side because of the predicament you’re in. You feel you can still perform at the level you always have, but at the same time, you’re doubting yourself.”
  • One of Prokhorov’s advisers seems to have overtaken the role of another, with Sergei Kushchenko now exerting more influence on the Nets than Dmitry Razumov has, as Tim Bontemps of the New York Post explains.
  • There was no chance the Celtics were going to keep soon-to-be restricted free agent Jordan Crawford beyond the season, writes Herald scribe Steve Bulpett, who sees Wednesday’s trade of Crawford and MarShon Brooks as a move made with only the future in mind.
  • An Eastern Conference personnel man tells Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News that if Knicks GM Steve Mills finds a taker for J.R. Smith, “he’ll be pulling a fast one” on whatever team ends up with the swingman.
  • Ian O’Connor of wonders if Mike Woodson‘s public support for Smith has to do with their mutual ties to the Creative Artists Agency. The Knicks would be better off waiving Smith this summer and using the stretch provision to spread out his remaining cap hits, O’Connor believes.