Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Nets general manager Sean Marks said in an interview with WFAN on Tuesday that Kevin Durant - and Durant alone - will decide when he returns to the court for Brooklyn. He also said the club will give Kyrie Irving a 'clean slate,' rather than pass judgement on what may or may not have happened with Irving last season in Boston. Marks touched on those topics - and several others - during his interview with WFAN's Evan Roberts.
Here are some highlights:
On if the Nets worked to find out what happened with Irving in Boston or they just thought Irving's signing was an opportunity to give him a clean slate: "I think you had to do both. I think you certainly have to try to figure out what happened, why did it happen, what can we learn from it. First and foremost, and clearly the most important piece is to sit down and give the young man his time. And say 'Kyrie, hey look how do we make this successful? What do you need from us? This is what we're going to do. This is how we're going to play. This is our system, and so forth. This is how we think you can benefit from being in our system and so forth. And look at our culture, this is how you can help drive it. What do you think of that?' And honestly have a grown-up conversation with him. And hear him speak and let him speak his mind and to your point, sort of start with a clean slate and I think everyone deserves that."
Irving was in a leadership position with the Celtics last year when the club failed to meet expectations. The club lost in the second round to Milwaukee, and Irving was blamed in some corners for falling short in his role as a leader.
However, as fellow Net Spencer Dinwiddie noted earlier this month, it's unfair to solely blame Irving. Gordon Hayward had a sub-par season in his return from injury and Celtics coach Brad Stevens ultimately couldn't get the new group to coalesce. Marks, when asked about it, said he didn't want to comment about what happened in Boston with Irving.
On Durant's rehab from his torn Achilles: "We're certainly not going to rush him back. We've got far too much invested in him and we owe it to Kevin to get him back to 100 percent. So, I really don't know at this point." Marks reiterated that the club would let the rehab process unfold before offering any definitive timetable. He added that the Nets' success this season would not factor in to the decision, either.
"This is going to entirely be a Kevin Durant decision," Marks said.
The Nets performance team huddled with Marks and others after Durant suffered his injury and expressed confidence that they could navigate the ailment.
"To a man or woman, every single person raised their hand and was like, 'I want that challenge,'" Marks said.
He added: "I'm going to bet on my performance team here every day - these guys have worked wonders, they know exactly what they're doing."
When asked what drew Durant to Brooklyn, Marks said he'd prefer to let Durant answer. But he did note that Durant mentioned the Nets' style of play during their meeting following Durant's announcement.
Marks said Durant told the group, "I like the system, I like how you guys play. I see how hard your guys play. You were never out of games. We could never take you guys lightly…If we were up 10 with two minutes to go, we knew that didn't mean anything against Brooklyn."
Marks added: "That's a real credit to the competitive environment that (head coach) Kenny (Atkinson) has really brought. He spearheaded that."
On if the Nets felt Irving and D'Angelo Russell could fit together: "Well I think you have to look at everything. That (was) certainly an option. However, I'm not sure if that would have been a good fit for either one of those guys," Marks said. "I think D'Angelo has proved that he can go in and lead a team. He's deserving of that… I'm not sure it would have made sense to have two guys in there that really are deserving of trying to run their team."
The Nets traded Russell to Golden State in a sign-and-trade in which Russell inked a max contract.
Entering free agency, all sides involved felt as if it would be best to allow Russell to move on if the Nets signed Irving, and Russell returning to Brooklyn was highly unlikely. Swapping Irving for Russell - a player well-liked by teammates and a key part of Brooklyn's resurgence - is certainly a risk. We'll find out in nine months or so if it was a risk worth taking.
"D'Angelo was amazing when he was here," Marks said. "He did everything we asked and completely bought in to the culture and bought into the development piece and really matured and really was somebody we were quite happy to bring into the future with on our team."
On if Atkinson must change his approach with Durant and Irving here: "I think everything has to change, slightly. We haven't had that type of talent - and that's across the board - I'll put all of our free agents in there, not just the two of those guys that you mentioned. Things are going to change, things are going to adapt, they have to…. (The new players) have to start driving the culture, that's what it's all about. We have to learn from them, these guys have been in the league, they're elite level players. We have to see what we can learn from them as well. But I can assure you that Kenny is not going to be anything different than who he is.
"The great thing is when Kyrie and KD and (DeAndre Jordan) and (Garrett Temple) all came in here, they knew what to expect, they knew what Kenny is, they talked about it and they loved the emotion he showed."
On if Jarrett Allen will start ahead of Jordan this season: "This is a competitive environment. You go and you earn it, you earn the spot."
The GM complimented Allen, a third-year player, for playing in Summer League and said he could also learn about the game from Jordan. "For him to learn from a guy like DeAndre - DeAndre has shown, even in his time in New York, that he's willing and able to nurture and really help the progression of some guys."
On if the Nets trade of Allen Crabbe (along with two first-round picks) to create cap space before free agency was an indication that the club was confident it would land two max free agents: "We debated that for a long, long time. That was a tough decision. … For us it was a calculated one. It was one that sent a little bit of a message, to be quite honest. It was, 'Hey listen, we do have the room, we're ready to go and for those that are watching, here we are.'"
Marks added that the club discussed alternative scenarios if it failed to land two top free agents.
"If free agency hadn't panned out the way it did, there were other alternatives," Marks said. "Who do we go back out and try and get? What other contracts do we absorb? How do we recoup some of those assets that we may have given up?"