Far away, but closer than vefore: Now
Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have molded and reshaped the franchise’s image by doing the almost impossible, which was finding and developing players with very limited resources.
At this point, we can only speculate on what the Brooklyn Nets will be doing this season. One thing is clear though, the team is miles in front of where they were in 2010.
For one, the team does not need to focus on drumming up any excitement for a move. They obviously want to make some noise to attract prospective free agents, but the team does not need to panic about rebranding and creating a new identity for a new market.
Marks, in his annual conference call with fans, argued that selling Brooklyn as a new home is easy; in fact, he said it “sells itself”.
"“People want to live in Brooklyn.”"
And he’s right. Speak to a young person looking to live in New York City, nine times out of 10 they will name Brooklyn if you ask them specifically where they want to go.
Secondly, the team has been building assets, sometimes out of what seems like thin air, and planning ahead, rather than tanking and building around bad contracts. Marks stated that the front office will be taking a “creative approach to free agency.”
He added that it might not all happen during next offseason either:
"“There can be some different avenues throughout the year that we can take”."
With big-name players like Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving expected to hit the market, it would not be surprising that their current teams will try and get some value back for the talent they will be losing. The Nets have stockpiled solid young players as well as expiring contracts and draft picks.
Sir Charles In Charge
Third, the team is not openly tanking as they were in 2010. No team outwardly tries to lose basketball games. However, the makeup of that particular team did not work to the advantage of the organization.
It was a cobbled-together squad of players on expiring contracts with a some bright spots scattered few and far between.
Presently, the Nets are pegged to make a run for a late playoff spot, projected at 10th in the East according to CBS Sports, and, in a weakened Eastern Conference, have a decent shot at making it.
Making the postseason would garner a lot of attention. However, the more important focus the Nets need to have is to show improvement.
Lastly, it cannot but overstated how much having a front office and a coaching structure intact is when recruiting free agents and players. Having a consistent coach and GM tandem with a vision will be one of the biggest weapons of the Nets next offseason.
In the Marks-Russillo interview, the former Nets executive claimed that the team was not on the radars of many of the big names because the lack of real direction.
Even in hiring their new coach, Tom Thibodeau, a hot assistant coach at the time that Marks was sure would be at the helm had Rod Thorn not left, passed on the Nets for a more-stable Chicago franchise.
Striking out again after clearing space and losing for the past couple of years will look bad, but the worst-case scenario is that the Nets will have a team with youth. Re-signing most of the current team and adding a few new pieces would not be terrible.
The team is still very young and at least one player will be bound to take the next step. The organization also has at least six draft picks, not including their own, over the next three years.
Whichever way this season pans out, the Brooklyn Nets will be in a better place then in the summer of 2010. It is safe to say that the likelihood of signing another Travis Outlaw or Johan Petro will be very slim. Or at least I hope it is. In Marks We Trust.