Faced with an impossible task when he took over as general manager of the Nets in February of 2016, Sean Marks has turned them into a winning organization faster than anyone could have predicted. Shrewd trades and free-agent signings, on-target drafting and skillful player development by coach Kenny Atkinson resulted in the sixth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference with a 42-40 record in just their third season.
Now that Marks and Atkinson have built such a promising foundation, it begs the question: Will they come? Will any of the top-tier free agents in a super-talented market come to New York and venture into Brooklyn, or is that a bridge too far?
Following their first-round playoff loss to the 76ers, several players expressed confidence that the perception of the Nets has changed in such a positive way that they can attract a marquee star. Marks wasn’t permitted to discuss specific players when he spoke with reporters on Thursday, but he agreed the Nets are well-positioned to make the most of their projected $30 million in salary cap space.
“I think the process that we went through this year can only help,” Marks said. “It goes back to really establishing an identity and establishing that we’re going to go out there every night and our guys are going to compete.
“It’s going to attract free agents. People are going to want to play here. They’re going to want to play for Kenny. They’re going to want to play in Brooklyn. They’re going to play for this ownership group. I think we have a lot of things going for us.”
Although top stars Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, either of whom would fit the Nets’ needs perfectly, have been projected to go to the Knicks and Clippers, respectively, there is reason to believe the Nets can get in the conversation for either one.