Sean Marks

New York Notes: Nash, Marks, Toppin, Johnson, Pelle

Nets head coach Steve Nash recently praised general manager Sean Marks for constructing an impressive culture and roster, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. While both areas were strong before the season began, the recent signings of veterans Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge only helped strength Brooklyn’s culture – and roster – as the team continues its quest of winning a championship.

“Sean deserves the credit for pushing these things over the line and for having a vision to execute,” Nash said. “It may look straightforward and simple from the outside, but a lot goes into all these decisions, and Sean is very thorough in his approach, with the whole front office and then opinions from all the other departments as well.

“He’s done an unbelievable job, not just this year but in building the prior culture that was here before this team was here, building that position of strength and leverage for the roster over the course of the year. So I hope everyone understands what a great job he’s done and what a thorough and well-thought-out process he has. It’s been outstanding.”

Here are some other notes out of the Atlantic:

  • Knicks rookie Obi Toppin is gaining confidence as he continues to play with aggression, Barbara Barker of Newsday writes. Toppin scored eight points in 15 minutes off the bench against the Pistons on Friday. “I really like the way he’s been playing,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He played extremely well in the first half.” On the season, Toppin is averaging just 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per game.
  • Nets guard Tyler Johnson will receive a scan on Monday after sustaining a knee injury against Chicago, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). The team called the injury a right knee strain before ruling the 28-year-old out for the rest of the game, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Johnson had to be helped off the court and was unable to put any weight on his leg.
  • Knicks 10-day player Norvel Pelle showed toughness after suffering a finger injury in his first game with the team on Saturday, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Pelle dislocated his finger, received treatment, and continued to play on despite suffering the injury. “Seeing a player like that that just joined us to go down with an injury and be able to wrap it right back up and make big blocks showed his energy,” Reggie Bullock said. “He’s a Knick type of player with the grit to continue to play in the game. We love that fight from him.’’ Pelle is currently listed a probable to play against Brooklyn on Monday, Berman tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Nets Big Three, Tatum, Curry, TD Garden

Nets general manager Sean Marks is hopeful that the team will be able to extend Brooklyn’s new Big Three of forward Kevin Durant and guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The three stars, all of whom can become free agents in 2022, will not be eligible to ink contract extensions until the new league year commences in August.

“We’re definitely committed to these guys,” Marks said in a local radio interview on WFAN. “We’ll continue to build with this group, and we’ll just see where it goes. But hopefully it’s a lot longer than a year-and-a-half.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though Celtics All-Star small forward Jayson Tatum remains closer to an on-court return for Boston, he will remain unavailable for at least Friday’s tilt with the Sixers, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Tatum has not played for Boston since the team’s 116-107 win over the Wizards on January 8.
  • Sixers starting shooting guard Seth Curry has seen his health status upgraded to probable ahead of Philadelphia’s Friday game against the Celtics, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Curry has not played since injuring his right ankle in a 122-109 January 6 defeat to the Nets. Since then, he tested positive for COVID-19, but has since cleared league protocols and now is working on his conditioning ahead of a return.
  • The Celtics have inked a 15-year extension on their current lease with their home arena, TD Garden, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. The contract will keep Boston home games located at TD Garden through the 2035/36 season.

Nets Will Consult Numerous Players in Coaching Search

The Nets plan to get input from several players as they look for their next head coach, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. As expected, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be consulted during the process, but sources tell Lewis that general manager Sean Marks plans to talk with DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and possibly Caris LeVert as well.

“Yeah, I would say it would totally be not incredibly smart of us if we did not involve some of these key players in this decision. And that not only goes for Kevin,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie; we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they want in a coach, what they need. The guys have been brutally honest so far.”

The additions of Durant and Irving in free agency last summer make the Brooklyn job one of the most attractive in the league. Kenny Atkinson appeared to be the coach of the future, but his surprising dismissal in March created an opening amid rumors that the two stars weren’t enamored with Atkinson’s style of play.

Jacque Vaughn was successful in an interim role, leading the Nets to two wins before the hiatus, followed by a 5-3 record in reseeding games even though half the roster wasn’t available. Vaughn has been promised consideration as the team looks for a permanent coach, and he has the advantage of working with Marks on three separate occasions in the past decade. However, he may be overshadowed by some bigger names on the market.

Vaughn and Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue are viewed as the early favorites for the job, Lewis notes, as Irving has interest in reuniting with his former coach in Cleveland. Joe Harris was also a Cavalier under Lue and called him “an excellent coach.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who served as a mentor to Marks in San Antonio, has been mentioned as a possibility, along with Jason Kidd, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Ime Udoka. Durant and his representatives reportedly have an interest in Jackson, Lewis adds.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Kanter, Robinson, Musa

Sixers center Joel Embiid is joining forces with team managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer on a $1.3MM contribution to fund testing for 1,000 health care workers in the Philadelphia region, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports. The donation has been confirmed in a team press release.

Embiid said he learned that “testing for COVID-19 antibodies has the chance to let health care workers know if they are immune to the virus.” The big man notes that the workers who have immunity can work in “risky environments” and donate blood to help patients recover. Embiid’s partnership with team ownership should quell speculation that he has a fractious relationship with the organization which could eventually lead to his departure.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Enes Kanter remains hopeful that the remainder of the season, or at least the playoffs, can be played, The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach writes. “We are competitors man, so we want to go out there and finish the season,’‘ Kanter said on Zoom. “Especially, like, it’s crazy — we actually have a really good chance to go out there and win a championship.”
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson might have the league’s most team-friendly contract, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The big man has a $1.66MM salary for next season with a $1.8MM team option for 2021/22, Berman notes. The Knicks’ net rating improves by 5.3 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the court, Berman adds.
  • The Nets’ European players — Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — have been separated from their families indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Travel restrictions prevent them from reuniting with their families. “They are coping, and their families are coping with this. But that’s really difficult,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Their families are completely separated. They’re not in the same time zone, they’re in completely different countries, and obviously there is a travel ban in place.”

And-Ones: Durant, Westbrook, Stoudemire

Many assume that Kevin Durant will miss the entire 2019/20 season, but it appears that’s not a given quite yet. GM Sean Marks said it’s “too early” to make a definitive timeline on Durant’s Nets debut.

 “A timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we’re certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It’s too early,” Marks said (via Nets Daily).

Durant is familiar with the medical staff in Brooklyn. Dr. Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle specialist who is the team’s orthopaedic surgeon, performed the surgery to repair Durant’s Achilles. Despite the connection, the former MVP’s decision to join the Nets caught many in the basketball world by surprise, including some within Brooklyn’s front office.

“The Instagram post that he put up [announcing he’d sign with the Nets], we were all sitting in the office. We all got that in real time with you guys. We weren’t even sure if we were getting a meeting that night or if it was going to be a telephone conversation,” Marks said of finding out about Durant’s decision. The GM added that he hadn’t even spoken to Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman yet.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Magic are unlikely to have interest in Russell Westbrook, Josh Robbins of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). The long-time Thunder point guard is reportedly open to a trade.
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer believes Marvin Williams is the veteran on the Hornets‘ roster most likely to be traded. Williams is making $15MM next season and Bonnell thinks the power forward’s game would mesh well with nearly every roster in the league.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who worked out in front of a number of teams this week, is serious about returning to the NBA. “I was never really done,’’ Stoudemire said, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. “I took kind of a sabbatical leave and I went to go learn over in Israel for two and a half years or so. So I went there and when I was still learning, I was able to also play basketball and keep myself in shape. I always stayed in top shape. I didn’t really remove myself too far from being in basketball shape.”

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Nets, Horford, Barrett, Raptors

The Raptors’ pitch to Kawhi Leonard to remain with the organization is still being discussed but is near completion, GM Bobby Webster told the Toronto Star’s Doug Smith and other media members. “There’s definitely more (things to be done),” Webster said. “As you can imagine, there are a ton of thoughts and ideas.” Aside from the financial implications — the Raptors can offer their superstar a five-year deal worth nearly $190MM while other suitors can give him a four-year, $140.6MM contract — the organization is expected to emphasize its championship pedigree, the medical staff that earned Leonard’s trust, and a chance to keep winning in familiar surroundings, Smith adds.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have continued to clear cap room to sign two high-level free agents and there’s an expectation that this summer will be transformational for the Nets, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Draft-night trades cleared $2MM more in cap room, moving the team within $2MM of landing some combination of Leonard, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. GM Sean Marks indicated that going after big fish in free agency is the next logical leap for the franchise.
  • Al Horford would be a “no-brainer” free agent target for the Sixers if they don’t re-sign both Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Horford would be a natural fit at power forward alongside Joel Embiid and could play center in games that the oft-injured Embiid sits out, Pompey notes. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option with the Celtics and pursue a multi-year contract in free agency.
  • There were mixed views on R.J. Barrett within the Knicks organization but GM Scott Perry was determined to draft the Duke freshman with the No. 3 pick, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Barrett made a strong impression during a June 10 visit with the Knicks. “When we bring guys in, we allowed them to spend time with the front-office staff, coaching and medical staff. It became apparent he was going to be an excellent fit from a culture standpoint,” Perry said. “He did nice things on the court when he worked with coaches. He reaffirmed what we had seen during the college season. … We were comfortable remaining in the draft position at 3.”
  • The Raptors had some discussions about moving into the late first round or early second round of the draft but weren’t willing to give up future assets, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

NBA Fines, Suspends Sean Marks

Nets general manager Sean Marks has been fined $25K and suspended for a game after going into the referees’ locker room following Saturday’s loss to the Sixers, the league announced.

Marks will serve his suspension Tuesday during Game 5 of the playoff series in Philadelphia.

Yesterday’s game was marred by a third quarter fracas that saw the Nets’ Jared Dudley and the Sixers’ Jimmy Butler both suspended.

Nets Extend GM Sean Marks

The Nets have finalized a contract extension for general manager Sean Marks, multiple sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The news comes on the heels of a report indicating that Brooklyn is also on the verge of extensions with head coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff.

Marks, who took over as Brooklyn’s general manager in February of 2016, still hasn’t had the Nets’ own first-round pick available in a draft due to the infamous Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with Boston. However, he has managed to rebuild the club into an up-and-coming potential playoff team, trading for Most Improved Player candidate D’Angelo Russell and finding value late in the first round with picks like Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

Marks has also cleared the team’s salary cap going forward. Heading into the 2019 offseason, the Nets only have about $51MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, including Allen Crabbe‘s $18.5MM player option. That will give Marks and the front office plenty of flexibility to lock up RFA-to-be Russell and potentially pursue a top free agent or two.

Terms of Marks’ new extension aren’t known, but his previous contract had been set to expire in 2020. His new deal will presumably tack on at least one or two new years, if not more.

I’d expect official confirmation from the Nets on Marks’ deal once Atkinson’s extension is done as well, so the team can announce them both at once.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Marks, Tatum, Irving

The Knicks need to keep on tanking to assure themselves a top five pick in the draft, Steve Popper of Newsday argues. The team with the worst record can’t fall any lower than the fifth pick under the new draft lottery rules, Popper notes, and the Suns currently hold that distinction after New York ended its 18-game losing streak. After the top five players, including Duke’s trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, there’s an apparent dropoff in talent. The team with the second-worst record has a 20% chance of falling to the No. 6 slot, Popper adds.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have made so much progress over the last three seasons under GM Sean Marks that they’re in play for top-level free agents, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Brooklyn has turned into a playoff-caliber team under Marks’ guidance. “Things surrounding the team probably look a lot more attractive to the outside,” Marks told Lewis. “We’re a more attractive destination. The young guys we know are going to be Nets for the foreseeable future, we’re proud of their development and that’s a pretty good foundation. People have taken notice and said, ‘Hey, I [could] play with that group.”
  • Boston hasn’t played like champions most of the season but one of its young stars says they’ll end up with the Larry O’Brien trophy. Jayson Tatum declared to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (hat tip to Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston) that the Celtics are going all the way. “We’re gonna win the Finals this year,” Tatum said. “Feb. 16, Jayson Tatum says (the Celtics) are going to win the Finals this year.”
  • Kyrie Irving agreed to some extent with Marcus Morris‘ criticism shortly before the All-Star break that the Celtics weren’t playing hard enough or having enough fun, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald relays. Boston won its last two games before the break after Morris’ comments. “Well, I mean, there was some truth into it,” Irving said. “You know, we obviously understand that we have a lot of talent in our locker room, so it’s been a lot to manage. But we’ve come out pretty successful — obviously not as successful as we would like to be, but that’s just overall the attitude that you have to have in order to win in this league.”

Nets Notes: Russell, Kurucs, Musa, Marks

As Brian Lewis points out for The New York Post, Nets GM Sean Marks didn’t offer D’Angelo Russell a contract extension in October mainly because he wanted to see if the young point guard could prove himself to be a go-to option and leader. So far, so good on that end as Russell has stayed healthy this season and is averaging career highs of 20.3 points and 6.6 assists per game going into his first All-Star game appearance.

Russell has been the leading force on a Nets team that is surpassing expectations, having already won more games (30) than they did all of last season (28). Russell’s improvements have coincided with steady improvement from Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and Spencer Dinwiddie, with veterans and rookies contributing in other spots as well.

The Nets will now look to build on their strong record and claim their first playoff spot since 2015, as Russell will look to lead the way and play his way into a big contract this summer.

There’s more on the Nets: