When the Brooklyn Nets hired Sean Marks as their general manager in 2016, the job was considered one of the most challenging positions for an incoming executive. The team was in salary-cap hell, with very limited flexibility and draft picks (thanks to their trade with the Boston Celtics).
Just three years later, Brooklyn has completely changed the way they’re perceived around the NBA and managed to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to long-term deals. This solidifies the Nets as one of the biggest winners of this offseason and as a legitimate championship contender in the coming years.
In addition to Durant and Irving, the Nets also acquired DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler and Garrett Temple among others this summer, while keeping key up-and-comers like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Rodions Kurucs.
How did the Nets change their culture and put themselves in position to land stars? Where does Brooklyn go from here? HoopsHype talked to current and former Nets players about the team’s transformation.
LANDING KEVIN DURANT AND KYRIE IRVING
Dinwiddie has said that he and Irving started talking last December, with Irving mentioning that New York “might be real fun next year.” Sensing an opening, Dinwiddie tried to sell Irving on the Nets over the New York Knicks. It helps that Brooklyn was closer to contending, winning 42 games and finishing sixth in the East last year (whereas the Knicks were an NBA-worst 17-65).
Dinwiddie and Irving have been friendly since high school, but they weren’t very close until recently. Dinwiddie told HoopsHype that their bond strengthened after they hung out at All-Star Weekend in 2018. Then, they both happened to sign up for the same business course at Harvard in the fall of 2018.