BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Brooklyn Nets had their fair share of issues this season: they fired their head coach and re-assigned their general manager in January, and finished with 61 losses, the third-most in the league.
But they had one other issue that was dealt with internally: They were late. Apparently, a few players were late a lot, without any repercussions.
And new general manager Sean Marks had to put his foot down.
“You get fined, (or) we even got to the point where we were saying if you’re going to continue to be late you’re going to miss a game, you’re going to get suspended,” Thaddeus Young noted Thursday morning.
“Those are the type of things (that force change). When you start to play with people’s money, play with people’s livelihood, take food off their table, things change. So I think that was one of the biggest things. At the end of the day if you’re going to continue to be late, you’re not going to do your job, then hey, why should we pay you for it?”
No specific players were named as recipients of fines or suspensions, but the impact was certainly felt.
Young cited the area’s traffic as an issue that players needed to learn how to work around. The Nets began the season practicing in East Rutherford before moving to their new practice facility in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn in February. That was right around the time Marks took the Nets job, and began doling out the new laws of the land.
“He’s definitely implemented some structure,” Nets backup guard Shane Larkin added, also referring to team tardiness. “Not so much on the coaching side, but just off the court. People being late. He said he’s not having that anymore.”
The 40-year-old Marks spent three seasons with the Spurs organization as a player from 2003 to 2006. In 2012, he began working for the Spurs front office in various capacities, including as the general manager of their D-League team and as an assistant coach. Marks’s time with the Spurs lends him a certain amount of credibility, and numerous Nets players cited his experience with San Antonio and his commitment to accountability as major points in his favor.
“You have to be accountable for anything that you’re doing, be accountable for your mistakes,” Young affirmed. “(Marks) made that felt as soon as he walked through the door. That was the biggest thing we harped on; we had to be together, we had to come in as a family, we had to all be here at the same time, had to all be here to work.”
“He gave us insight on how he deals with team fines and everything, and just off his words he chose to use in the conversation — it was nothing negative — he sent off a vibe that, ‘I’ll respect this guy,'” backup forward Thomas Robinson said. “Ever since that, (and) multiple other things, there’s a lot of changes being made in the organization. So like I said, he’s serious. He’s making change which has to be made.”
The Nets have no control over their own draft destiny until 2019, and only hold one pick in this upcoming NBA draft — the 55th, which they get in a swap down with the Clippers. The team has gobs of cap space this offseason, but will be competing with about two dozen other teams who have the ability to sign a player to a max contract.
Externally, Marks has about the toughest job in the league for any general manager, which is why he’s taking the steps to streamline and strengthen the organization’s internal structure.
“Accountability, responsibility, things like that,” Brook Lopez said, when asked what Marks has brought to the franchise. “It’s very important. We obviously rely on each other to create that strong foundation and we can’t have a single guy slipping up so we need to show up, be on time and do our jobs.”
“I think a lot of our young guys took this as a learning experience to kind of see the do’s and do not’s in the league, and take those examples and use them going forward.”