Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks recently completed one of the most improbable rebuilds in NBA history. While cross town rivals the Knicks had to make do with role players, Marks pulled a trump card in signing two All-NBA calibre players in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. After the previous Nets regime famously gave away their first round picks in four out of five drafts, Marks completed this rebuild with only one of his own first round picks. The timeline of this rebuild makes for intriguing reading.
February 18 2016
Sean Marks hired as General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets.
When Marks playing career ended in 2011 he embarked on a three year career with the Spurs. This culminated in his promotion to Assistant General Manager. This experience, in arguably the NBA’s best organization placed him in good stead for the Nets job.
At the time of his hiring the Nets were over the cap by ten million. They also had a total of $27 million of dead money on the books after waiving Joe Johnson and waiving and stretching Deron Williams. Williams was stretched over 5 years at the rate of $5 million a year.
April 17 2016
Kenny Atkinson hired as head coach.
It didn’t take long for Marks to start imprinting on the organisation. Atkinson was hired after spending four years as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks. Not only has he doubled the win total in three years in charge, Atkinson’s play style and adjustments have been praised around the league. Whether it was not playing traditional big’s or playing a zone defense, Atkinson hasn’t been afraid to do things differently.
July 7 2016
Traded Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers for Caris LeVert.
With Brook Lopez and Young the only assets on the roster, Marks made the aggressive move to trade him for rookie small forward and 20th pick Caris LeVet. LeVert has been one of the Nets most consistent players in Marks tenure. He broke out in the playoffs this year against the 76ers, scoring 20 points a game on 49% shooting from the field. Bar a massive overpay from another team, its looking like LeVert will be a long-term piece for the Nets.
July 19 2016
Signed Joe Harris to a multiyear contract.
Harris was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. Injuries and a lack of opportunity had him traded to the Orlando Magic who cut him in 2016. After signing with the Nets he revived his career, and recently led the league in three point percentage. Harris deservedly got a two year $16 million contract last year. This kind of reclamation project has been a hallmark of Marks’ tenure.
December 8 2016
Signed Spencer Dinwiddie to a multiyear contract.
Similar to Harris, Dinwiddie was also on the NBA scrap heap. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons, he played in just fifty games before being traded to the Bulls. They cut him before the 2016 regular season. This left Marks to sign him in December. He impressed straight away with his confident play making and scoring as a combo guard. Last season Dinwiddie averaged a career high 16 points a game off the bench. This play had him rewarded with a three year contract, at around three years and 30 million.
February 22 2017
Traded Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough to the Washington Wizards for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 first round pick.
While Bogdanovic may be the only name people will know in this trade, this move was key to Marks rebuild. He had been improving on the Nets but was likely to get overpaid in free agency. The Washington Wizards gave up a first round pick for him at the deadline.
June 22 2017
Selected Jarrett Allen with the 22nd pick and Kyle Kuzma with the 27th pick.
Traded Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez to the Los Angeles Lakers for Timofey Mozogov and D’Angelo Russell.
Marks came into this draft with two first round picks, numbers 22 and 27. Number 22 was the Wizards pick, while number 27 was the pick swap with the Celtics. On that same night Marks saw the opportunity to get a young point guard in D’Angelo Russell and he swooped in. By keeping their powder dry and preserving cap space Marks was able to absorb the Mozgov salary and take on Russell. Lopez was likely to get a bigger contract in one years time also. D’Angelo Russell took the Nets back to the playoffs last season while averaging 21 points a game. He was also their first all-star in six years. Jarrett Allen was a steal with the 22nd pick, providing the second most win shares in his draft class to date.
July 13 2017
Traded Justin Hamilton to the Toronto Raptors for DeMarre Carroll, a 2018 first round pick and a 2018 second round pick.
Again by retaining cap space, the Nets were able to absorb another salary dump while taking in two extra picks. Though it looked like Carroll’s contract would age poorly, he was able to resurrect his career in Brooklyn. He posted career highs in his first year, while being a big part of the playoff team in his second year.
June 21 2018
Selected Dzanan Musa with the 29th pick and Rodions Kurucs with the 40th pick.
Marks used the picks from the Carroll trade to select these two European wings. Though it is early in both of their careers, it looks they will be good role players.
July 13 2018
Traded Isaiah Whitehead to the Denver Nuggets for Darrell Arthur, Kenneth Faried, a 2019 first round pick and a 2020 second round pick.
Another salary dump, this time absorbing two players into their cap space. Within a week Marks used Arthur in another trade, sending him to the Suns in return for Jared Dudley. Dudley was a difference maker for them in 2019, while they ended up with a first and a second round pick.
April 13 2019
Brooklyn Nets return to the playoffs, win game one against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Less than three years after taking over the GM job, the Nets returned to the playoffs after a 42 – 40 season. Finishing with the sixth seed, they were one of the form teams from December on wards with a 34 – 22 record.
June 6 2019
Brooklyn Nets trade Allen Crabbe, the number 17 pick in the 2019 draft, and a 2020 first round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for Taurean Prince and a 2021 second round pick.
Marks was now cooking with gas. Aware that they were in the running or even in the lead for marquee free agents, he started clearing cap room for July 1st. Crabbe was moved to Atlanta, while Prince was brought back as another project. Knowing they would need maximum flexibility with cost controlled contracts they traded out of the first round this year also.
July 1st 2019
Signed Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan
Though it didn’t become official until later, this was the day Marks trumped the league by signing two of the biggest free agents. To make things work cap wise, Marks used a sign and trade to bring in Durant while moving Russell. They also gained a first round pick in this deal.
In just over three years Marks rebuilt the Nets. With no cap space in his first season and no draft picks, he fully rebuilt the roster. He handpicked players on the waiver wire and developed them, while also making it back to the playoffs. He cleared cap space to sign two max free agents while not mortgaging their future. While the Clippers and Lakers gave away five first round picks or more to bring in star players the Nets are owed a total of one first rounder and six second rounders in the next two years.
Marks may not be done making moves, with almost 20 million cap space next year and assets to burn this team may not be a finished product. For now though their is a new championship contender in Brooklyn!