Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has endured numerous high-stress days and a handful of uncomfortable press conferences over the past year.
Tuesday was particularly tough.
Marks has had to explain why he parted ways with coach Steve Nash just seven games into the season – while he’d already appeared to have embarked on a complicated process to name a controversial potential replacement, reportedly Ime Udoka.
All this news as Kyrie Irving had thrown the team into another storm that the Nets had publicly done little about, with Marks having to answer numerous questions while Irving was spared scrutiny for a second straight day.
When Marks has faced tough questions over the past few months, he’s often done it alongside longtime friend Nash. Nash was relieved of that duty as well, and the general manager handled it alone.
It’s an annotated look at what Marks said – and didn’t say – as the franchise faces drama on at least three separate fronts:
Editor’s Note: Interview edited for brevity
Whether Nets players were consulted in the decision to leave Nash:
“Zero. None of the players contributed to that. I think that was a decision that we didn’t need. Steve and I didn’t need that. Obviously I spoke to them [owner] yeah [Tsai] about it, but the players were not consulted. They were told beforehand that this is the direction we are going.”
At the time of the mutual decision between the Nets and Nash:
“When we have these conversations, [Nash] is aware that “they aren’t answering me right now” or “that wasn’t the performance I needed to see out there” and so on. We were open to this dialogue, which always took place. And you know, over the course of the last week, 10 days, we’ve just been talking and talking, and I think it’s come to a head.
It’s exceptionally rare for an NBA coach to be fired on a game day, let alone about 12 hours after a win (the Nets beat the Indiana Pacers 116-109 Monday night).
Marks explained the business decision had been in the works for days. Indeed, if the schedule he’s referring to here is correct, those talks would not have started until a few days after the start of the 2022-23 regular season.
If Marks and Nash had known where the journey was going, the Nets could have already started reviewing Ime Udoka’s situation at the Boston Celtics.
Whether the Nets have chosen their next manager:
“No, absolutely not.”
Marks could debate the meaning of the word “determined,” but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported within hours of Nash’s departure that Udoka would likely replace Nash within a day or two.
Given the situation of Udoka serving an obscure suspension while under contract with the Celtics, it is reported that the process of bringing in Udoka and sending Nash has been underway for some time.
Kendrick Perkins explains what’s next for the Nets following Steve Nash’s exit.
What a new coach would bring to the Nets:
“Looking at the group of guys out there I would like to see them at the highest level. I mean, we’ve seen games this year that I honestly don’t think we’ve made it to. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. There have been times when a quarter has been scrapped, a half has been scrapped, a game has been scrapped. We didn’t run. … The candidates we’re looking for are going to look, that will being one of their attributes: being competitive and having a voice to hold guys accountable.
This is the only time Marks was truly critical of Nash and the players throughout the press conference. Invoking a voice to hold players accountable could be a sign of the impending hiring of Udoka, who has earned a reputation for doing just that with his star players in his only season as head coach at Boston.
Whether the Nets would be comfortable hiring Udoka:
“Obviously there’s a reason why we took that step when we did it, because time is ticking. So we want this process to be thorough. We will not skip any steps. And we will do our due diligence.”
This was a coded question about Udoka and his suspension for workplace improprieties. Marks provided a coded response meaning the networks have looked into it but are still ready to make the adjustment as the season is already underway.
How Nets fans should react to the latest news and controversy:
“Look, it’s understandable. I’m totally empathetic to what’s going on here. I’m certainly not proud of the situation we’re in, you know? … As for Kyrie, we have discussions… From the highest levels [that] We are working with the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and taking their advice and just hoping they can advise us. We can bring something to the table that both parties, all parties here can at least be understood by each other and understand that there is no tolerance and no place for hate speech, any anti-Semitic statements, whether in this organization or any organization by the way.”
When Marks said this, Irving’s social media post, which referenced a film with anti-Semitic tropes, was five days old. Irving’s comments defending his decisions were three days old, as were formal statements from Nets owner Joe Tsai and the team themselves condemning them.
Irving had deleted the post a day earlier. It’s unclear what kind of discussions Marks and the Nets have had.
As for Irving’s possible punishment:
“As I mentioned earlier, we are in talks with the ADL. That’s at the level of Joe Tsai, our CEO, and me and the group, and I’m really just trying to weigh up exactly what’s the best course of action here. Part of it will bring sides together so they can understand where people are coming from. There is an educational contribution here for everyone. There’s an empathic contribution to that and understanding that we have to move on and do the right thing, without a doubt.”
Marks hinted that there will be some sort of meeting between Irving, the Nets and the ADL, but he wasn’t clear on such details.
Beyond punishment, the issue of Irving still playing the nets is raised:
“We tried to do a little bit of both, to be honest. By keeping him – he didn’t do media last night, he won’t do media tonight. Eventually he’ll come here and do media again, but I think at this point it’s like we don’t want to make any more fuss now, more interaction with people. Let’s let it simmer for example and let’s let the whole thing, I guess, let cooler heads prevail. We have to go out and educate ourselves, educate the whole group and get direction, seek from the experts, and the experts are one of them is certainly the ADL.”
This is perhaps the most notable response from the press conference. Marks admitted the team will continue to break league rules by not letting Irving speak to the media because it could cause “an uproar.” Whether true or not, it could mean that Irving is unwilling to apologize while the team is unwilling to take any significant action regarding his past actions or comments.
The league announced no fine Tuesday for media policy violations. Irving declined to speak to the media Monday night after scoring 28 points as he helped the Nets break a four-game losing streak with eight fans sitting in the front row at Barclays Center wearing t-shirts bearing the words “Fight Anti-Semitism”.
Kevin Durant says he was surprised by Steve Nash’s departure from the Nets.
Why Irving is still not speaking to the media:
“Everyone knows he has to answer those questions at some point and he hasn’t shied away in the past but I think the last meeting after the game didn’t go well and we’re not trying to cover it up. I think that’s something that needs to be addressed, but let’s address it in the right shape or way, and when that’s done we’ll let you know.”
The nets are free on Wednesday. Irving, who played one of his worst games as a net on Tuesday night, scoring just six points, will not have addressed the media for four days. Player contracts and league rules require speaking to the media after every game.
Whether the Nets can still chase a title this season:
“…My job here is to get this team, this organization, in the best possible place to be successful, not just now but in the long term. We don’t want to skip steps. We don’t want to rush it here. But we know , I’ll be honest we have a window here and if we have this group of players and this salary cap and where we are we hope to achieve that I think we’ve all seen what’s been there over the last few years a lot of teams that eventually looked a certain way and made some moves and changed and we hope to be one of those teams [arriving] in the decision we will [make] hopefully that will be a catalyst for a turnaround in the next few days.”
The Nets have $185 million in wages and are scheduled to pay $108 million in luxury taxes, making the team’s investment this season more than $2.4 billion. Between 2023 and 2027, the Nets’ own first-round picks are owed to the Houston Rockets either directly or in trades that cloud any discussion of rebuilding.
Some urged the Nets to tear it down and trade Irving and Durant. Marks seemed to make it clear with his answer: That doesn’t happen. Changing coaches is about giving this team every chance of success.
How the Nets’ recent actions and changes will affect Durant:
“You know, I think we have to take all these things into account. I mean, it’s certainly not an easy decision to get to this particular crossroads now, and when we’re making the decision about who to hire, I think we need to look at what’s best for us now, but also over the long term .”
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34929074/brooklyn-nets-gm-sean-marks-own-words-want-cause-more-fuss-right-now Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks, in his own words