Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks summed up the offseason thus far on Tuesday, when free agent Shabazz Napier officially signed his 2-year deal.
Marks riffed on the team’s plans for D’Angelo Russell this season, how he’s approaching business with the coaching staff as he and head coach Kenny Atkinson enter their third season running the show and on the roster as it currently stands.
In the process, Napier signed his two-year, $3.5 million contract to join the backcourt rotation after two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he played with current Net Allen Crabbe and new acquisition Ed Davis.
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Per Early Bird Rights, Napier will receive $1.6 million this season and $1.85 million in 2019-20.
For Nets fans who are bursting with optimism over the changes to the roster, which includes the additions of Davis, Napier, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur and rookies Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, part of Marks’ message may throw some cold water on it.
Marks and Atkinson had spoken earlier this year about this season being the year when the Nets focused more on wins and losses and less on player development.
But with Brooklyn poised to head into next offseason with its own first-round draft pick for the first time since 2013, as well as the potential for a second first-rounder if the Denver Nuggets’ pick is 13th or worse, we may be in for more losses this season.
Per Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily via Twitter:
So … yeah. At the very least, this means the Nets will be losing with a goal in mind, as opposed to the last three seasons when Brooklyn just lost a lot.
In all seriousness, Marks obviously has a plan for the long term and he is committed to it. There’s no skipping steps, no shortcuts and no quick fixes — after all, it was the quick-fix approach that put the franchise is the sorry state it was in when Marks was hired in 2016.
It appears the Nets as they are currently constructed are pretty close to what we’ll see hit the floor opening night, bar any injuries or untoward incidents between now and mid-October.
It appears the club may look to use Russell more off-the-ball, with Spencer Dinwiddie in line to start at the point. Napier provides point guard depth, with Joe Harris providing shooting guard minutes off the bench.
But Marks didn’t want to get too caught up in discussions about Russell’s role or future, per Bryan Fonseca of Nets Daily via Twitter:
We’ve never seen the Nets win an NBA title. Some of us remember seeing the Jason Kidd-led Nets reach back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. A few of us old-timers remember the ABA title years in 1974 and 1976.
So it’s understandable to have a degree of impatience with yet another rebuild, particularly since the “win-now” moves made by former GM Billy King detonated in our faces so very spectacularly.
But Marks has been deliberate, but he’s also completely turned over the roster since coming to Brooklyn, with only forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson remaining from the squad he inherited.
Without having his own first-round picks to work with, he’s added young talents in Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Russell and struck developmental gold with previous NBA fringe players Dinwiddie and Harris.
With a lot of cap space on the horizon next summer, developing and improving are legitimate goals and, hey, in a weakened Eastern Conference, the Nets could be in the conversation for the No. 8 spot without really trying to be.
There is a lot to like with what’s developing at Barclays Center. We just have to keep the faith and realize there are, in fact, better days ahead. That’s much more than we had even two years ago.