The 3 crimes of Sean Marks
Sean Andrew Marks. Born in New Zealand. He went to College in California and got drafted by the New York Knicks. Despite being drafted by them, he never played in New York. 18 years, two stints in San Antonio, and three championships (1 in Poland) later, he returned to New York to become the GM for the Brooklyn Nets. The organization in Brooklyn was in disarray. Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov gambled the team’s future for a “win now” strategy and it resulted in 0 championships and a 70-loss season. With hardly any draft picks left and a roster boasting an extreme talent deficit, Marks started his rebuild.
Let the fun times roll
Marks quickly proved he has an eye for talent. Be it through acquiring players on draft night or through trades. Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, D’Angelo Russell. He managed to see things in players others didn’t see and he managed to reinvigorate some careers. Under head coach Kenny Atkinson the team started winning a decent amount of games and Brooklyn became known for having a great culture. The team seemed to be having fun and this was highlighted by seemingly endless dancing and high-fiving on the sidelines. The Nets weren’t anywhere near contending for a championship but they were making the Playoffs. Luis Scola guaranteed the culture in Brooklyn would result in stars coming. He was right.
In Sean Marks we trust
Because of the success Marks was having, faith in Sean Marks as GM grew. Whenever he did something that appeared questionable, fans said “In Sean Marks we trust”. One can debate how much influence he had in KD and Kyrie coming to Brooklyn, if any. However, I can’t see Kyrie bringing KD to Brooklyn after a 12-win season and with a talentless roster. And even though we will never know if we could have won anything without making the Harden trade, we do know that the Nets would have beaten the Bucks if Giannis doesn’t take out Kyrie. Many believed that Marks built a true championship contender that year. And KD almost beat the eventual champions by himself. Nevertheless, the big 3 era in Brooklyn ended in disaster. All 3 stars forced their way out and the drama seemed to have no end. Marks played a part in all of it. Here are his 3 biggest crimes.
1. Allergy to rebounding
The Nets are obsessed with small ball. Ironically, the Houston Rockets introduced the NBA to modern small ball and they haven’t won anything. Still, the Nets swear by it. Funnily enough, under Sean Marks, the team has looked best with a 5-out small ball lineup. With Jeff Green at center, Brooklyn had shooters everywhere and they were on a historic offensive tear. This must have clouded Sean Marks’ judgment because the Nets have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league for years. No matter what stat you look at, they are always near the bottom. Rebounds, rebounding percentage, offensive rebounds, all of it. The team is consistently terrible. And it has had a cost. The Nets lost the series against the Celtics last season by a total of 18 points. Rebounding could have made a difference against the long Celtics. This season, in so many lost games, rebounding was the difference. You cannot be bottom of the league in a stat for years and never address it. Sean Marks famously said that he was happy with his frontcourt depth at the beginning of the season. He doesn’t get enough heat for that. I know he counted on Ben Simmons being Ben Simmons and Day’Ron Sharpe being NBA-ready. Still, there are teams with 3 actual centers on the roster. Brooklyn barely has 1. Meanwhile, Poetl went to Toronto and now he is in Cancun. Mo Bamba is getting DNPs in LA. And Brooklyn is still getting outrebounded.
Sean Marks comes from the great San Antonio Gregg Popovich tree. To be fair, that is a very good place to come from. Mike Budenholzer, Mike Brown, Monty Williams, Taylor Jenkins and Ime Udoka are some names on that ever-growing tree. It’s highly impressive. Unfortunately, Ime Udoka is an example of one of the crimes Marks is guilty of. Reportedly, Ime Udoka was considered for the head coaching job when Kenny Atkinson was let go. Jacque Vaugh was also considered. Then Steve Nash called his friend Sean Marks and Steve got the job. He had no coaching experience whatsoever. He still got the job. When you have as much talent as Brooklyn did, you’re going to win some games. Many believed it was despite of the head coach. When Nash finally got fired, there was a chance for the organization to finally go for a proven coach. But instead of hiring Ime, he gave his friend Jacque Vaughn the job. Subsequently, for no reason, he extended Vaughn’s contract twice. Because of this Nets fans will never know. Would things have been different with a coach like Ty Lue, Ime Udoka or Mike D’Antoni?’
3. Lack of leadership
A player needs to play to the best of their abilities. A star needs to elevate the team and make his team better. A coach needs to get the best out of his squad. And, a GM needs to put together the best squad he can, without sacrificing the team’s future, if possible. To do this a GM requires, amongst other things, vision and leadership. Sean Marks showed a lack of the latter during several stretches in his time as GM of the Brooklyn Nets. Sure, a healthy slice of the blame pie goes to Kyrie, when it comes to the KD, Kyrie debacle. Joe Tsai also gets a healthy slice. But since the Harden trade, Marks has not showcased strong leadership. After KD had verbally agreed to sign the contract extension, Marks himself said that Kyrie and Harden were going to sign as well. A lot of wildly unpredictable things have happened since, however, would a strong GM not have gotten at least one more signature? When Joe Tsai came with ridiculous demands for Kyrie to redeem himself, he could have stepped up. And, when the Nets made Kyrie their final offer, he should have gotten it done or, he should have held his ground, keeping the squad together to finish the season. In 3 key moments, Sean Mark’s lack of leadership cost the Nets multiple shots at an NBA title.
So what happens now? Sean Marks deserves his flowers for getting Mikal Bridges and Dorian Finney-Smith. The future is far from bleak. With a few good moves, the future is extremely bright. Marks has proven he can put a true contender together. What he needs to do now is to do it again and, preferably, keep it together this time. After fumbling the KD/Kyrie era, he didn’t deserve to stay. Joe Tsai believes otherwise. Having the trust of your owner is extremely important. If Marks does what he needs to do the coming offseason. Maybe the prhase returns. “In Sean Marks we trust”. Only time will tell.