Whenever people talk about the best general managers in the NBA, it seems as if the only people talked about are Danny Ainge, Sam Presti and Darryl Morey. For some reason, Brooklyn Nets’ general manager Sean Marks is never mentioned. I am a firm believer that Marks is one of the best GM’s in the NBA. I won’t go full on hot-take and say he’s the best (yeah it’s Danny Ainge) but he’s definitely doing something special in Brooklyn.
As of now, the Nets have a very intriguing roster. They have a talented backcourt headlined by D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert, that also features talented and somewhat young pieces in Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris. Russell was the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and flashed his ability as a scorer and creator last season, despite having an injury-riddled campaign. LeVert was the 20th pick of the 2016 Draft and has had an explosive start to the season after two promising years for Brooklyn.
In the front-court, the Nets have a solid 3-and-D on an expiring contract in DeMarre Carroll, who could be used as trade bait towards the deadline. They also have a young front-court duo of Rondae-Hollis Jefferson and Jarrett Allen. Hollis-Jefferson has shown the ability to guard the 2, 3, and 4 positions, while Allen was a defensive anchor in his rookie season.
If their roster doesn’t sound all that great to you, think of it with the perspective of where the Nets were a few years ago. Imagine being Sean Marks when he took over as GM of the Nets in February 2016. They finished with an abysmal record of 21-61, didn’t have a full-time head coach, had a roster whose best players were the aging Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, only had one real young piece of talent in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and worst of all didn’t have either of their first round picks the next two years.
The first move that showed Marks’ brilliance as a GM was a draft day trade in which the Nets dealt Thaddeus Young to the Pacers for the 20th pick in the draft where they would take Caris LeVert. LeVert had a solid first two seasons in the league before having an absolutely red-hot start to this season.
In the same offseason, Marks hired Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson to be the head coach as well as signing a few not-so-great players, but he did manage to land Jeremy Lin. During that season in which the Nets were the worst team in the NBA, they made a few frivolous moves.
These included signing D-League guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who would be a decent backup point guard before having a breakout season last year. He also used the Washington Wizards’ intent to compete in the Eastern Conference and their bad contracts to his advantage, as he traded Bojan Bogdanovic to the Wizards for Andrew Nicholson and a 2017 first round pick.
The offseason of 2017 is when Marks showed how smart of a GM he was. The Nets had a lot of cap space and many teams had some bad contracts. So, the Nets decided to inherit those bad contracts in order to gain assets. The most notable move they made was sending Brook Lopez’ expiring contract and the 27th pick in the draft to the Lakers for former No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell and the overpaid Timofey Mozgov.
The other salary dump trades made in the summer of 2017 inherited the Nets two solid rotation wings, in Allen Crabbe and Demarre Carroll, as well as the Raptors first round pick in 2018.
Marks once again showed his ability to identify talent in the NBA Draft, as with the pick he got from the Wizards, the Nets took Jarrett Allen. Allen had a good rookie season last year, in which he flashed loads of defensive potential. To start the year this year, Allen has recorded two very impressive blocks on Blake Griffin, while improving upon his offensive game.
This past offseason, Marks made even more savvy trades. Knowing about Dwight Howard’s locker room issues, he traded Timofey Mozgov and a second round pick to Charlotte for Dwight. The Nets then bought out Howard, which cleared up $16 million more in cap space for the Nets next offseason. Marks also utilized the Nuggets’ desire to stay out of the luxury tax when he took on the expiring deals of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur to secure the Nuggets first round pick this year. In the draft, Marks took Dzanan Musa with the 29th pick and Rodions Kurucs in the second round.
When Marks took over the Nets, it was a GM’s nightmare. There were no young pieces, no real talent on the roster, and no picks. In two and a half years, the Nets have changed considerably for the better. They now have many young pieces, acquired a lot of picks, and this upcoming season they will have around $65 million in cap space, with the potential to clear space for even more.
Although Brooklyn might not be a good team this year (I still think they could be a playoff dark horse though), the future there looks bright. In a few years, when the Nets are a solid playoff team with a good looking future, Nets’ fans will be praising Sean Marks and you’ll be stupid for not seeing it happen earlier.