Sean Marks

Nets Notes: Simmons, Irving, Marks, Draft, Offseason

As we relayed yesterday, Nets general manager Sean Marks said at his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday that Ben Simmons is feeling better after having a microdiscectomy to relieve the pain from the herniated disc in his back, which had gotten worse over time. Brian Lewis of The New York Post has more details from Marks on how Simmons is doing post-surgery.

Ben had a tricky buildup, to be quite frank,” Marks said on Wednesday. “He got here and there was a setback obviously as he went through his ramp-up and we saw him on the court. We saw him participating in 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 games with the stay-ready group. We were hoping, just like Ben was, he was going to be out there.

It got to be too much and we had another follow-up MRI and we could see the herniation had expanded. At that point, there was really nothing but surgery that was going to fix this. … From the communications I’ve had with him multiple times since the surgery, he’s feeling relief already and feeling great. He knows that, it goes back to that five months, he has a big buildup to get ready and contribute.”

Simmons battled physical and mental health problems for several months and missed the entire 2021/22 season. Lewis asked Marks how the team plans to assist Simmons in both of those areas to see him return to action next season.

Regarding Ben post-surgery, I don’t want to speak for him but I can sense there’s a relief. There’s a new lease on life, when you’re able to take a problem and say that should be fixed and move that out of here and now it’s on to the rest,” said Marks, hesitant to discuss the touchy topic of Simmons’ mental health. Marks added that the Nets plan to have Simmons in the gym and around the team as much as possible, as we previously relayed.

Here’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Head coach Steve Nash envisions Simmons playing multiple positions, saying that he’ll act as a facilitator on offense at times and a “positionless” role at others, per Ian Begley of (Twitter link).
  • All of the drama and lack of availability from Kyrie Irving since he signed with the Nets is no one’s fault but Marks’, argues Ian O’Connor of The New York Post, who adds that the Nets GM “is the one who made this mess (and) is the one who will almost certainly fail to clean it up.” Irving has appeared in just 103 of a possible 226 games with the Nets, and the team has only won a single playoff series in his three years with the team. Trading for James Harden, who sulked his way out of Houston and then Brooklyn a year later, further eroded team chemistry and created a “culture of player appeasement,” if there was any culture at all, says O’Connor.
  • Marks said the Nets plan to keep their draft pick (via the Sixers) as long as they can find a player who can help in 2022/23, Lewis tweets. The Nets hold the No. 23 pick and have until June 1 to decide whether they want to keep it or defer it until 2023.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explores seven key questions Brooklyn will be faced with this summer, including whether the team should keep Irving.

Nets GM Sean Marks On Irving, Simmons, Offseason, More

At his season-ending press conference on Wednesday, Nets general manager Sean Marks was noncommittal when asked about Kyrie Irving‘s future with the team, according to a report from The Athletic.

As Marks noted, he predicted last year that the Nets would come to terms on extensions for Irving and James Harden prior to the season and neither came to pass, so he wants to avoid making that mistake again.

That’s something that we’ve been discussing and we’ll continue to debrief on and discuss throughout this offseason … we haven’t had any of those discussions yet,” Marks said. “We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available. That goes not only for Kyrie but everybody here.”

Irving holds a player option for $36.9MM next season, and if he opts out, he’d become an unrestricted free agent and eligible for a five-year, $247.7MM maximum-salary contract if he re-signs with Brooklyn. He’s also eligible for a four-year, $185MM extension if he picks up the option.

Irving missed most of the season due to his vaccination status and it clearly had a negative impact on the team, with Marks saying “it’s obvious” that Irving’s absence was a factor in how the season played out. Brooklyn entered the season as championship favorites but finished with just a 44-38 record and needed to win a game in the play-in tournament to advance as the No. 7 seed in the East before being swept in the first round of the playoffs by Boston.

Brooklyn has up to 10 players who could become free agents this summer, so both the players and the organization have important decisions to make.

What drives them? Do they want to be part of this? Are they motivated by something that maybe is not good for the whole team?” Marks said, per Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. “So those are questions we’re going to have to ask ourselves and also the players that we want to bring back in here.”

Here’s more from Marks’ press conference:

  • According to The Athletic, Ben Simmons had an MRI after his back soreness returned prior to Game 4 against Boston and it revealed that his herniation had gotten worse, which necessitated the surgery. Marks said Simmons is feeling better and the team plans to have him around as much as possible. “We’re gonna be doing everything we possibly can to get him around our group. That is the key,” Marks said. “He needs to be in here, smell the gym again, around his friends, around his family and participate in this and let us help him build the culture together, build up together, build him back up because as (coach) Steve (Nash) alluded to, he is a big, big part of this.”
  • Irving said after the season ended that he planned to stay with Brooklyn, but he raised eyebrows by stating that he’d work with Kevin Durant, owner Joe Tsai, and Marks to manage the team. “When I say I’m here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe and Sean,” he said.
  • However, Marks clearly wanted to put an end to that notion. He said that he is the Nets’ primary decision-maker and that he hadn’t spoken to Durant about the state of the team, the season, or about Irving’s future with the club, as Mahoney relays. “But at the end of the day, I mean more often than not, it’s myself making those decisions,” Marks said, “and it’s not me going to Kevin and saying: ‘Do you want this person? Do you want that person? Do you want that guy?’ I don’t think that’s fair to place that on Kevin. Now, is he surprised by anything? Absolutely not, because he will know ahead of time what we’re doing, what we plan on doing with, to be honest with the entire roster.”

Nets Notes: Irving, Brown, Simmons, Draft Picks, Durant, Nash

After the Nets got swept out of the playoffs by the Celtics on Monday night, Kyrie Irving said he plans on remaining in Brooklyn. Irving can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $36.9MM option. Whether he opts in or negotiates a new free agent contract, Irving doesn’t see himself playing elsewhere, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets.

“In terms of my extension, man, I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” he said. “So this is just added motivation for our franchise to be at the top of the league for the next few years.”

Irving made an eyebrow-raising comment that he and Kevin Durant will essentially work in tandem with owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks to improve the team, Scott Cacciola of the New York Times tweets.

“When I say I’m here with Kev, I think that really entails us managing this franchise together alongside Joe and Sean,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Swingman Bruce Brown is heading toward unrestricted free agency and was noncommittal about his plans, Lewis tweets. The Nets hold his Bird rights. “The season just ended; I’m not thinking about it,” Brown said. “If there’s a chance to stay, we’ll talk about it. But we’ll see.”
  • Ben Simmons wasn’t even at the arena when the Nets’ season ended. After promising reports that he’d make his team debut on Monday, Simmons didn’t play due to “physical and mental issues.” He wasn’t in the building due to his back ailment, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • Some league executives are skeptical of Simmons’ mental health claims, according to Steve Bulpett of “To me, that’s the only untouchable excuse that they could have to get his money back (from the Sixers),” a source told Bulpett. There’s also skepticism that any head coach can get through to him. “He’s been enabled his entire life. He’s very aloof,” the source told Bulpett. “He’s a great player, but it’s all the extra stuff that no one’s held him accountable for, that’s just made it difficult.”
  • The Nets hold the Sixers’ 2022 and 2027 first-round picks and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski believes there’s a good chance they’ll move them to upgrade the roster, relays. “Ultimately, they may never use a player from those draft picks. They’re going to be trade assets,” he said.
  • Durant said coach Steve Nash remains the right man for the job, Lewis tweets. “Steve has been dealt a crazy hand the last two years, he’s been having to deal with so much stuff as a head coach for the first time, COVID, trades,” Durant said. “I’m proud of his passion for us.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Sixers, Knicks, Durant, Simmons

Five-time Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid admitted that he considered quitting basketball entirely during his rookie year, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid was drafted by the Sixers in 2014 with the third pick out of Kansas, but didn’t suit up for Philadelphia until the 2016/17 season. Surgeries for a navicular bone in his right foot delayed Embiid’s NBA debut for two years while he grieved the death of a family member off the court.

“You look back at my first year after the surgery,” Embiid said. “Obviously, I lost my brother at that time, too. Going back to Cameroon, I really wanted to stop playing basketball and really retire because at that point you just had surgery, and everybody is talking about ‘You’re not going to make it’ or ‘You’re never going to play in the league,’ and, obviously, the loss of my brother was big. I wanted to give up. I almost did. It was hard.”

The 28-year-old has since become one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, and is currently building a convincing MVP case with a terrific and mostly healthy season thus far. He is averaging 29.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG and 4.5 APG through 46 games this season. Embiid boasts shooting splits of .495/.369/.813.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • While the identities of four Sixers starters are fairly clear heading into the home stretch of the 2021/22 NBA season, the team has several options for the fifth starting role, per Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. With James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Embiid entrenched in the club’s starting lineup. Neubeck considers whether they’d be best complemented by the defensive attributes of Matisse Thybulle, the corner three-point shooting of Danny Green or Furkan Korkmaz, or the size advantage of Georges Niang.
  • With a 25-34 record, the Knicks face an uphill battle to even make the play-in tournament this season. Fred Katz of The Athletic wonders at what point second-year New York head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose job may be in jeopardy this summer, may opt to prioritize developing the team’s youth over less-than-meaningful victories. Katz also theorizes about the potential markets awaiting 2022 unrestricted free agent center Mitchell Robinson, and forward Cam Reddish, whom the Knicks could either opt to extend this summer or allow to reach restricted free agency next year.
  • Nets team president Sean Marks expects stars Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons to join the team on the hardwood fairly soon, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post“Depending when they go, we’ve got to see how they respond to days like [Tuesday], and we’ll go forward with this,” Marks said. “It’s probably going to be tough, to be honest, to be playing in the next three or four days. But we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Nets Notes: Marks, Harden, Simmons, Irving, Mills, Nash

Nets general manager Sean Marks said the decision to move on from James Harden was a difficult one, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Make no bones about it: We went all-in on getting James Harden and inviting him to the group,” Marks said during a video conference call discussing the trade deadline Friday afternoon. “And these decisions to move on from a player like that, of that caliber, are never easy ones. I just want to be clear that this is not something that you think, great, let’s just make a split decision and move on from that. I give James a lot of credit for having open dialogue, open discussions with me and with the group, [Nets coach Steve Nash] and [owner] Joe Tsai and everybody over the last 24, 48 hours.

Again, I said they’re not easy, but I think that’s something we pride ourselves on is being open and honest. James was honest with us and we were honest with him. I think it’s a move that enables him to have a fresh start, enables this team to have a fresh start, without trying to push things to make things work. If we realize this is not going to work, short-term or long-term, then it’s time to say for both parties involved, this is better off.”

Marks went on to say that trading Harden wasn’t about the team’s 10-game losing streak, it was based on his entire tenure in Brooklyn, and the newly-acquired players help the Nets in ways that Harden couldn’t.

It’s not just eight or nine games,” he said. “The things that we’ve had to deal with over the course of the last year since James has been here is, to be quite frank, the Big Three, quote unquote, haven’t had significant time to play together for a variety of different circumstances. So, I think the frustration is more in that than in eight or nine games. Obviously it was not, and it currently isn’t, trending in the right direction, but we’re not going to make a decision off of one, two, five games, whatever it may be. The sample size has to be bigger. And at that point, we’re sitting here saying, ‘Yeah. We’ve seen enough.’ On both sides.

We obviously thank James immensely for everything he’s done. Let’s be honest, he’s come in here and set all kinds of Brooklyn Nets records in such a short time. He’s a hell of a player, without a doubt. Again, these are not easy decisions, but we’re very grateful for what James has done over his short time here, but at the same time, adding these three players — Seth [Curry], Andre [Drummond] and Ben [Simmons] — help us in needs James doesn’t fulfill.”

When asked if the Sixers tampered by talking to Harden, Marks said that was for the league to decide.

Unfortunately, the world we live in right now, so much of this is being played out in the media,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “So much of this is, whether it’s scuttlebutt, hearsay, and so forth, it’s just the nature of the beast. It’s just the nature of the world we’re in. I’m not going to start making accusations at everybody else. Again, this particular set of circumstances was played out in the media far earlier than any conversations were ever had. I don’t know and again if this is where it ends up, that will be completely up to the league to look into these set of circumstances.”

There are several more interesting quotes from Marks in Bontemps’ article. I recommend checking it out.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Kyrie Irving said there were hints that Harden was unhappy in Brooklyn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays. “I can’t really say that you feel that [unhappiness] in the locker room, but we get hints,” Irving said. “So we just wish him well. We want him to be ultimately successful. Now we move forward with the guys that are coming in. We’re excited. I just want everyone to be happy and do things they love to do, and be a part of things they can see themselves being successful at. It probably wasn’t here with us and he made a choice and we respect him for it. No love lost.”
  • Nets guard Patty Mills said that his fellow Australian Simmons is in a good place at the moment, Lewis writes in a separate article for the Post. “He’s in a really good place right now, speaking to him a fair bit lately and seeing what he’s been up to in terms of staying ready and getting his body right and getting game ready,” Mills said. “So it was good and pleasing for me to see and feel where he’s at. From that standpoint, you get a really hungry person who’s looking forward to playing basketball again, and especially with our group.”
  • Nash was reflective on what could have been with the “Big Three” era, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “You’re up 2-0 against the NBA champs, and then to not have James in the first games and then Kyrie in the last games, James being on one leg, Jeff Green being out of the lineup, all sorts of things that hampered our opportunity to win,” Nash said. “To take them to overtime in Game 7, you definitely think there are some what-ifs, but that’s life. You can’t look back. You’ve got to look forward.”

Harden Directly Asked Nets’ Marks, Tsai For Trade To Sixers

For much of the 2021/22 season, Nets guard James Harden insisted during conversations with general manager Sean Marks and team owner Joe Tsai that he wanted to remain in Brooklyn beyond this season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne (Insider link). And initially, signing a long-term deal with Brooklyn was Harden’s preferred option, since he could always force a trade down the road if he needed to.

However, as the season progressed, Harden began talking to various player agents to get advice about how best to make his way to Philadelphia, according to ESPN’s duo. As Wojnarowski and Shelburne detail, the Nets would often quickly learn what Harden – who has a reputation for being passive-aggressive rather than confrontational and was worried about the optics of making another trade request – was saying to agents and other third parties.

Finally, with the trade deadline fast approaching, Harden directly told Marks and Tsai that he would prefer to play for the Sixers, asking the GM and team owner on a FaceTime call to send him to Philadelphia, sources tell ESPN.

The Nets told him they would only make a deal if it was a good one for the organization, which Harden understood. While the two sides agreed at that point that Harden wouldn’t play until after Thursday’s deadline, the former MVP appeared to have already checked out on the team, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, who say Harden informed management he was headed to Houston on Wednesday to wait out the deadline.

Here’s more from Wojnarowski and Shelburne on the Harden/Ben Simmons blockbuster:

  • Marks and Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey engaged in plenty of posturing in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline before eventually getting more serious late on Wednesday night, sources tell ESPN. Up until that point, Marks had listened to a couple of Morey’s trade pitches, but rebuffed them.
  • According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, when the two sides reengaged and eventually neared the finish line on Thursday, Marks told Morey he needed to hang up the phone to run the proposed deal by Tsai, prompting Morey to yell, “Stay on the f—ing phone!” Marks jokingly replied, “We’re dropping F-Bombs now, Daryl?” He ultimately got Tsai’s approval to move forward on the trade.
  • Simmons’ agent Rich Paul met with Nets star Kevin Durant and Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman nearly a month ago and pitched the idea of a Harden/Simmons swap, per Wojnarowski and Shelburne. Durant initially wasn’t interested in the idea, but the equation changed after he injured his knee and Harden became increasingly disengaged during his absence.
  • Harden doesn’t have a direct history with Sixers star Joel Embiid, but has always been a fan of the center and pushed Morey to trade for him when they were both in Houston, according to ESPN’s duo. “James respects players who do a good job defending him,” one source said. “And Joel has always done that.”
  • Although Simmons never got over what he viewed as a lack of public support from head coach Doc Rivers following last spring’s playoff loss to the Hawks, the two men had been speaking again in recent weeks, with conversations “increasing in substance,” per Woj and Shelburne. However, their final conversation on Thursday was mostly just an exchanging of pleasantries, sources tell ESPN.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

The Nets plan to bring Kyrie Irving back for road games once he clears health and safety protocols, but general manager Sean Marks may not be committed to that as a long-term decision, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Asked today if the team will continue with Irving as a part-time player when the roster returns to normal, Marks declined to answer, calling the question “hypothetical.”

Brooklyn has been hit hard by COVID-19 in the past week and currently has 10 players in health and safety protocols with tonight’s addition of rookie Day’Ron Sharpe, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The Nets, who also have Joe Harris sidelined after ankle surgery and Nicolas Claxton sitting out with soreness in his wrist, are missing 12 players for tonight’s game with Orlando. They signed four players this week with hardship exceptions to fill out their roster.

Marks admits the extreme shortage of personnel was behind the decision to let Irving start playing again, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, although he’s still ineligible for home games because he hasn’t met New York City’s vaccine requirement.

“Several months ago we made a decision that was based around what was best for the team,” Marks said. “What was best for the team at that point was continuity and I think we all see that continuity right now over the course of the last week and whatever the future looks like may be out the window for a while, and we’ve got to navigate that as best we can.”

Irving was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols earlier today, which means he either tested positive for the virus or returned an inconclusive result. Marks said he hasn’t appealed to Irving to get vaccinated or tried to change his mind about the issue, Reynolds adds.

“There’s also a risk for Kyrie when a guy comes in and if they’re not vaccinated,” Marks said. “I don’t want to get into those type of discussions, but that’s a risk for him coming into this environment, not just the team and so forth. But we’re all well aware of the status and his status and moving forward and how we’ll navigate this as best we can.”

Coach Steve Nash echoed Marks’ comments in a pre-game meeting with reporters, saying the original decision on Irving was based on continuity, but “continuity’s out the window now,” tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.

“I’m excited to have Kyrie back,” Nash continued (Twitter link from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). “He’s an incredible player, no matter what capacity. We’ll incorporate him in. It’s a positive for our group.”

Owner Joe Tsai also spoke about the thinking behind the reversal on Irving, telling Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the decision was made solely for basketball reasons and isn’t an attempt to make a statement about the vaccine mandate.

“We’re trying to be practical. And I’ve always said I don’t want to make this a political issue,” Tsai said. “My only religion is to win games and win the championship. That’s where we are.” 

Latest On Kyrie Irving

After issuing a press release on Tuesday announcing that Kyrie Irving won’t practice or play for the Nets until he can be a “full participant,” general manager Sean Marks spoke to reporters to provide more details on the team’s decision, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic write.

“We looked at everything. When you make a decision like this, it’s one that you don’t want to do hastily,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “… I think we all know what our objective is this year and how this, a decision like this, may be able to (impact) that ultimate objective. They are never easy decisions, but at the end of the day, I think we are looking at putting a group of people that are going to be able to participate fully and that is what this comes down to. And we’re not looking for partners that are going to be half time.

“I don’t think that would be fair to not only the team and staff and ownership and fans, but to be quite frank, not fair on Kyrie either when you are putting somebody out there that potentially can’t get the right ramp-ups and right buildups and so forth and look as good as he or the team should under a different set of circumstances. That is why this decision was ultimately made.”

Asked if Nets stars James Harden and Kevin Durant had a say in the decision to sideline Irving, Marks said that “everyone” in the organization was kept in the loop about the situation, but stressed that he and team owner Joe Tsai made the final call.

“Ultimately, this decision was Joe Tsai and myself, and this decision came down to what we felt was the right move for the organization at this time,” Marks said.

Irving is the only player on the Nets who remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. A New York City executive order requires individuals who work in the city to have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine in order to enter indoor venues such as Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden.

The NBA has stated that players who are ineligible to play in games due to local vaccine mandates will lose 1/91.6th of their salary for each game they miss. While the NBPA has pushed back against the league’s interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the expectation is that Irving’s stance will cost him $381K per game over the course of 43 games (41 in Brooklyn, plus two at MSG), for a total of nearly $16.4MM in lost salary.

Marks confirmed on Tuesday that Irving will only be docked salary for games in New York. As former Celtics and Suns executive Ryan McDonough explains (via Twitter), the decision to continue paying Irving for road games neutralizes Kyrie’s ability to involve the NBPA and file a grievance.

Here’s more on Irving:

  • As of now, Irving has no plans to be vaccinated and there’s no indication New York City’s policy on unvaccinated individuals will change any time soon, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, rival teams think Brooklyn would be open to a “significant” trade offer for Irving, but that kind of offer probably won’t be on the table, given that it’s unclear how willing Kyrie would be to join another team.
  • Executives polled by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports believe an Irving trade is possible, but only under “special circumstances,” since there are concerns he could retire if he’s dealt. “I don’t know if I’d touch him, but you have to look at it, for the sake of your team,” one exec told Goodwill.
  • Head coach Steve Nash told reporters today that he supports the Nets’ decision on Irving, per Ian Begley of (Twitter link). Nash said he’d love to have Irving back with the team if the situation changes, but believes it would have been a “tenuous situation” to have a player with the team off and on.
  • Harden said he respects Irving’s stance and would love to have him back in the lineup, but acknowledged that the Nets will benefit from knowing who will be available on a night-to-night basis (Twitter link via Begley).

Nets Notes: Extension Talks, Vaccinations, Two-Way Slot, Aldridge

With a week left until training camp commences for the Nets, general manager Sean Marks expressed optimism during a press conference today that the club will be able to come to terms on contract extensions for All-Star guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving, writes Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“Regarding the extension conversations, we’ve had very positive conversations with both those guys and whether it’s family members, (their) people, and so forth, I think it always helps to do these things in person,” Marks said.  “We’re looking forward to sitting down with them over the course of the next week, two weeks, and furthering those discussions.”

As Botte writes, Irving is eligible to sign a contract that tacks on an additional four years and $181.6MM to his current agreement. Harden, the better player, can agree to terms on an extension that would pay him $161.1MM over three additional years. All-Star forward Kevin Durant signed a four-year, $197.7MM extension that will keep him on the Nets through the 2025/26 season.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets still need to get a few of their players fully vaccinated for COVID-19 so that they are permitted to practice and play in New York City under the terms of the city’s new vaccine mandate, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I won’t get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth,” Marks said about the situation. The Nets’ GM expects everyone to be vaccinated before the 2021/22 regular season begins. Per the new vaccine executive order, individuals over the age of 12 without at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will not be permitted inside certain indoor locations, including the Nets’ and Knicks’ home arenas.
  • Marks said today that the Nets will have a “healthy competition” for the team’s current available two-way contract during training camp, per Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link). Big man Devontae Cacok and guard David Duke seem destined to be in the mix for the opening. Brooklyn still has an open spot on its 20-man roster, so the club may yet invite another candidate to compete for the second two-way slot before camp begins.
  • During a press conference today, Marks admitted he was initially wary about bringing back center LaMarcus Aldridge, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Aldridge was compelled to retire just five games after joining the Nets during the 2020/21 due to an irregular heart beat issue. “I tried to talk him out of it,” Marks said. “I said, ‘You don’t need this. Why would you come back?’ I think it was important to see his conviction, and it’s not a conviction made without really doing due diligence.” According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (via Twitter), Marks revealed that Aldridge reached out to the Nets as soon as he was medically cleared to return to the hardwood.

Eastern Draft Notes: Nets, Cavs, Heat, Raptors, Pacers

The Nets own a first-rounder at No. 27 and three second-rounders, so expect them to be very active this evening, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Multiple teams are interested in guard Landry Shamet and the Nets would love to dump DeAndre Jordan‘s salary. Some of those picks could be dealt in one or more deals involving those players. General manager Sean Marks has developed a reputation of making deals on draft night, Lewis notes.

We have more draft-related news involving Eastern Conference teams:

  • The Cavaliers continue to field calls with the No. 3 pick, but they’ll keep it unless they get an overwhelming offer, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. If they hold onto it, the Cavs will take USC big man Evan Mobley, assuming Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green are off the board. Cleveland also believes it can put together a package for another lottery pick in the top 10 by dangling some combination of Collin Sexton, Larry Nance Jr. and its 2022 first-rounder.
  • The Heat do not own a draft pick but that could change, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Miami could not only make a trade, it could also buy a pick with the $5.6MM it has at its disposal for 2020/21 transactions before the NBA calendar flips on Monday.
  • There’s growing speculation among lottery teams picking after the Raptors at No. 4 that they’ll pull a surprise and take Florida State forward Scottie Barnes, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets.  However, Jonathan Givony of ESPN claims in his latest mock draft that the league overwhelmingly expects them to select Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs, so the Raptors could be playing mind games with their competitors.
  • The Pacers brought in Alex Antetokounmpo (Murcia CB in Spain) and Jaquori McLaughlin (UC Santa Barbara) for workouts on Tuesday, according to a team press release.