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Nets General Manager Provides Insight Into Offseason Strategy

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks after offseason

On Wednesday, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks addressed the media as Jordi Fernandez was introduced as the new head coach.

As is customary, the Nets’ leading executive touched on both Fernandez’s hire and the current state of the franchise. An organization that’s constantly swinging for the fences by acquiring All-Stars, there’s no doubt that Brooklyn is actually trying to win a championship. Nonetheless, the Nets have only advanced past the First Round of the NBA Playoffs twice since 2007-08. In that stretch, they’ve missed the playoffs altogether nine times, including last season. With that type of luck, even the most coy executive would have some explaining to do.

Sean Marks Provides Insight Into Nets’ Offseason Strategy

While Marks didn’t give any excuses for the way the 2023-24 season turned out, he did provide insight into the Nets’ plans moving forward.

‘No. 1 Priority’

Brooklyn’s “No. 1 priority” is re-signing Nic Claxton (h/t HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto), a masterful defender at the pivot. Long, lithe and springy, Claxton averaged 11.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game in 2023-24. It’s his second straight season averaging at least 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game.

“We hope he’s a Net for a very long time,” Marks says. “We hope we can continue to build around him and with him.”

As the Nets have Claxton’s Bird Rights, they have the advantage of being able to offer him a higher salary figure than any other team.

At this juncture, it seems more likely that Claxton returns to Brooklyn than not. However, at 25 years old, Claxton would be wise to at least hear what other teams have to offer. Whether that’s more money, a larger role, or a better chance at winning, the Nets can’t be sure that he’ll re-sign until he puts his name on the dotted line.

To that point, Claxton has been linked to the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans in free agency.

Draft Strategy

Marks also revealed that the organization could acquire a first round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. The Nets don’t currently have any picks in the upcoming draft due to the James Harden trade.

Despite this year’s draft being unpopular, there are several under-the-radar prospects that could outplay their draft position. Marquette guard Tyler Kolek, Pitt guard Bub Carrington, and Providence guard Devin Carter are just a few that come to mind.

Landing a late first-rounder likely requires the team to trade a prized defender, like Dorian Finney-Smith.

In any case, with former assistant general manager Jeff Peterson heading to the Charlotte Hornets, the Nets have to re-work their scouting department. In doing so, Marks alluded to senior scouting director BJ Johnson having a larger role moving forward. Johnson “runs [their] draft and has for the last several years,” (h/t Nets Daily’s Lucas Kaplan) so there may be little change in their draft approach without Peterson.

Prior to joining the Nets in 2016, Johnson was the assistant director of Team USA Basketball. Since 2016, Brooklyn has had a great draft luck, drafting Claxton (31st overall), Cam Thomas (27th overall) and Jarrett Allen (22nd overall) outside out the lottery. Noah Clowney (21st overall) has also flashed his potential.

Dariq Whitehead Plan

2022 No. 22 pick Dariq Whitehead is another late first round pick of the Nets.

The top-ranked high school recruit in the Class of 2022, foot injuries foiled Whitehead’s plan to hit the ground running after leaving Duke. Limited to just two games in his rookie season, 2024-25 will be an opportunity for him to really get his feet wet on an NBA floor.

“Dariq should play in Summer League…,” Marks says, per Kaplan. “Whether or not he plays the entire Summer League or not, that’ll be [to be determined]. But the plan right now is he’s in the gym every day.”

A one-and-done, Whitehead averaged 8.3 points and 0.8 steals per game on 42.9 percent shooting from 3 while at Duke. The McDonald’s All-American Game MVP and Naismith Prep Player of the Year before entering college, the only reason to doubt whether Whitehead can be a longtime NBA player his durability.

Ben Simmons’ Outlook

Last not least, Marks addressed former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons’ status.

Simmons is “down in Miami, rehabbing now from surgery. All signs point towards him being available for the start of next season.”

“With Ben, it’s very unfortunate,” Marks says. “We looked like we were a completely different team when Ben was healthy out there. So it’s paramount that we get him back and we get him healthy.”

“And I think Ben wants it just as much, if not more than anybody else. But time will, time will tell on him and how he progresses through summer. There’s no reason to think he won’t be though.”

The principal return for the Nets in the Harden trade from a player standpoint, Brooklyn’s desire to see Simmons do well is as much about his natural capabilities as their return on investment. A gifted ball-handler, facilitator, and defender at 6-foot-10, Simmons’ potential has also been thwarted by injuries. Over the past three seasons, Simmons has played just 57 games due to myriad maladies, including a nagging nerve impingement in his lower back.

As Simmons will be on the final season of his five-year, $177.2 million contract, this may very well be the last time a player once compared to LeBron James is ever seen on an NBA court again.

Last season, Simmons averaged 6.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 5.7 assists in 23.9 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, he posted 9.2 points, 11.9 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 2.1 stocks per game.

Using his size, basketball IQ, and passing ability, Simmons simply made the game easier for his teammates. Furthermore, while he continues to be more passive than years past, he even attempted a couple of jumpers.

In a vacuum, that may not seem like much. However, considering that Simmons is so often inside his own head, it was a tremendous display of growing confidence.

As Marks says, Simmons likely wants to prove what he’s capable of more than anyone.


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