If there was any trade deadline apprehension among Nets players as 3 P.M. drew near, it certainly wasn’t on display at their practice facility. A loose Brook Lopez cracked jokes about deadlines past and present. Thaddeus Young waxed poetic on other team’s moves, and preempted reporters by asking himself questions.
After a few rumors, the Nets have gotten to the other side of the deadline with the same team they entered it with. But Lopez, who has been in trade rumors in nearly every year of his career, wasn’t convinced.
“I could just be ignorant and something could be happening right now,” he joked. “What time is it right now?”
It was 2:49 P.M.
“There’s 11 minutes. It came all the way down to the wire last year so we’ll see this year. We could just stand around for the next 11 minutes.
“… The first time I ever looked at the clock was when we were on the bus practice at UCLA (last season, when the team nearly traded him to Oklahoma City). That was the last one. I’m just going to see if I’ll just poof and disappear.”
But Lopez, who wasn’t expected to leave anyway, did not vanish in a puff of smoke at any point. Nor did Thaddeus Young, who was involved in a few rumors over the past few days. But Young did not let the talk bother him.
“Nah, I’m not nervous at all,” Young drawled, smiling. “I’m just chillin’. Just chillin’, enjoying my new practice facility, and enjoying practice. Had a good practice today, we were out there, we practiced hard, of course. Getting ready to get back to playing basketball now.”
Of course, the chances of any major move were slim at best. The Nets only officially hired a general manager — Spurs assistant GM Sean Marks — at 10:16 A.M. EST, less than five hours before the 3 P.M. deadline. Marks hadn’t even gotten to Brooklyn yet, and reportedly wanted to spend more time evaluating the roster before making any drastic moves.
Most Nets players knew little of Marks, with Lopez joking that he thought the new GM was former player Sean Rooks, and that he “did the Wikipedia” to get familiar, and had mostly positive things to say.
“Obviously we want continuity,” Lopez said. “It’s going to require a lot of communication. We’re going to have to be on the same page. We’ll have to know what we’re thinking and what our goals are, obviously. It’s obviously the right start.”
“I think it’s a great hire for us,” Young said. “Anybody that’s coming from the Spurs organization is definitely a great hire from what they’ve done in the past 20, 25 years. They’ve had a great organization, they’ve won championship after championship, always have produced a great team, and they have great people within the organization, great basketball minds, what I like to call them.”
Marks has a lot of work to do. The team doesn’t control the rights to a first-round pick until 2019 (they send their picks to Boston in 2016 and 2018 unprotected, and will swap with Boston in 2017 if Boston’s pick is worse), and outside of Lopez, Young, and rookies Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, don’t have any players considered part of their long-term “core.”
But despite the team’s dismal 14-40 record, interim head coach Tony Brown said he’s fine with standing pat for now.
“I know these guys,” Brown said. “I’ve been around them most of the year, so if it stands pat, we’ll go on as usual. Obviously, the second half of the season, we want to give some of our younger players the opportunity to play quality minutes. That’s gonna be kinda my focus going forward, to continue to work on the things we’ve been doing on offense and defense. So, road map is kinda out there for us with the team that we have.
“That’s kinda the plan. Just trying to keep working on the pace of the game that we want to play in and get better defensively. We have a lot more games to do that, so that’s kinda my goal.”