The NBA off-season continues to roll on. Summer League is now complete. Free agency remains ongoing. In a time where hope springs eternal, the Brooklyn Nets continue to make positive moves. General manager Sean Marks’ relentless approach towards improvement is self-evident. There is an air of Nets positivity permeating throughout Brooklyn.
While all members of the Nets were fully engaged, exhibiting nothing but the epitome of professionalism, some were not contributing to the team’s on-court product. As a result, a change was warranted. The trade of Timofey Mozgov started that movement.
OFFICIAL: Brooklyn Nets complete trade with Charlotte Hornetshttps://t.co/BbnTYIMvPQ
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 6, 2018
Mozgov was a positive presence in the locker room and was always quick to celebrate/uplift teammates on the bench. However, the fact is Mozgov was acquired as a salary dump and now it was time to move on from his exorbitant salary. The Charlotte Hornets afforded the Nets such an opportunity, as they too had badly needed salary-cap relief. So the deal was made with Charlotte, who badly wanted to get out from beneath the Dwight Howard contract.
Marks quickly bought out Howard’s contract and he has since signed with the Washington Wizards. This allows the Nets to have huge salary cap flexibility and options in the 2019 off-season.
After a presumably exhaustive search, Marks and the Nets chose Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs in the first and second rounds, respectively. Whilst unknown to most US-based fans, Musa and Kurucs enter the Nets’ team with little to no pressure, though they have big reputations in Europe.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 23, 2018
Both Musa and Kurucs are projected as sharpshooting wings. Musa, in particular, garnered a reputation as a gunner, dubbed “The Bosnian Sniper” by draft guru Mike Schmidt.
As part of Marks’ masterplan for the future, some players had to make way. The Nets made two trades.
OFFICIAL: Brooklyn Nets acquire Faried, Arthur and draft picks from Denver. https://t.co/L6PVfbmtzo
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 14, 2018
First, the Nets sent Coney Island native guard Isaiah Whitehead to the Denver Nuggets for forwards Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur. A protected 2019 first round draft pick and a 2020 second round draft pick were also included. Faried, nicknamed the ‘Manimal,’ hails from New Jersey and has worked out in NYC during previous off-seasons. He fell out of favor with Nuggets brass after the emergence of star center Nikola Jokic along with young players like Jamal Murray and Gary Harris.
Marks was optimistic about this acquisition. “I think he fits with that Brooklyn grit that we talk about in terms of how he plays; he plays with high intensity, obviously at a fast pace,” said Marks. “His game will transition well to Brooklyn and what (coach) Kenny’s (Atkinson) wanting to do here. He brings some of the intangibles that you mentioned before, which is just that interior presence, the physicality and so forth.”
It is worth noting that Marks then traded Arthur to the Phoenix Suns for veteran forward Jared Dudley. Dudley is a career 39.6 percent three-point shooter, which fits perfectly into the plans of coach Atkinson. More importantly, Dudley is a locker room leader. He aided in the development of the Suns’ young studs.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 13, 2018
Next, the Nets traded guard Jeremy Lin, a 2025 second round draft pick along with the right to swap second-round picks in 2023 to the Atlanta Hawks. They received the draft rights to guard Isaia Cordinier and a protected 2020 second round draft pick. Cordinier currently plays for Olympique Antibes in the French top tier.
For Nets fans, the departure of Lin is especially tough. He was a fan favorite and unquestioned leader of the Nets, though injury plagued. As soon as he arrived in Brooklyn from Charlotte, Lin openly embraced the arduous challenge ahead. That endeared him to the fans. Lin’s enthusiasm never waned even while his body betrayed him. The arrival of D’Angelo Russell, the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie, combined with the development of Caris LeVert may have shaken the belief of many. However, Lin was resolute in his duties. Losing Lin is akin to losing a relative to some Nets fans.
Marks said, “We would like to thank Jeremy for all of his contributions to the Nets organization both on and off the court over the past two seasons and wish him much success as he moves forward with his basketball career.”
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 14, 2018
Marks and the Nets have a strategy; acquire talent for cheap. To this end, the Nets have become a bit of a ‘marked’ team by both players and fellow teams. During Summer League, Marks was photographed having an informal conversation with Boston Celtics restricted free agent Marcus Smart and his agent. A few days later, Smart and the Celtics came to a contract agreement. Marks re-signed guard Joe Harris to a 2-year deal. Harris had suitors throughout the league, however he was steadfast in his desire to return to Brooklyn.
The Nets also returned to the team that gave them Allen Crabbe, the Portland Trailblazers. While Crabbe was acquired via trade, the Nets signed Trailblazer free-agents Ed Davis and Shabazz Napier. Both Napier and Davis were key members of a Trailblazer team who were the third seed in the vaunted Western Conference last season. Davis provides much need strength and size to the Nets front-court. Napier adds depth to the point guard position with the loss of Lin and Whitehead.
In this off-season of transition, the Nets led by Sean Marks have embodied that spirit. Marks has quickly become one of the most aggressive GMs while showcasing an aptitude and secrecy that keeps all guessing. The Nets since the arrival of Marks have one goal, to improve. To this end, that means talent acquisition. With all of the aggression shown by the Nets, it is undeniable that the Nets are much more talented today than they were last season.
Expect Marks to continue this aggression once Marks continues his talent hunt.“I think what we’ve done is we’ve strategically looked at various different ways to build and we’ve been able to pivot over the course of these last couple years, and that’s the same case of what we’ll do over this next year,” Marks said.
When specifically asked what to expect from the Nets, Marks preached patience and flexibility. “There’s never a number of wins that we need to reach this threshold and so forth,” said Marks. “I think as we go forward and as the year transpires, you’ll see a group of guys that are hungry, and they’ve got a lot to play for.”
Expect the Nets positivity to continue as Marks continue to improve the Nets.
The player Spencer Dinwiddie of the team Brooklyn Nets is seen in action during the match of NBA between of Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets on December 09, 2017 in México City, Mexico (Photo by Carlos Tischler/NurPhoto via Getty Images)