The Brooklyn Nets and Sean Marks are looking to bring established veterans to the team this summer, reports Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Marks, who has said over and over that the Nets will build the right way this time around, may be deviating from the plan he’s preached since Kenny Atkinson was unveiled as head coach in May.
Sources: The Brooklyn Nets have formed plan to pursue a number of veteran free agents. It seems Sean Marks doesn't want a long rebuild.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 27, 2016
Patience, as Marks continues to say, is Brooklyn’s new mindset — in fact, getting greedy is what cause the Nets’ franchise-changing swap with the Boston Celtics in 2013. To many, and particularly so after Marks moved Thaddeus Young for Caris LeVert last week, that meant blowing it up, adding rookies and cheap, unwanted talent, and finding out what fit. However, what if there’s a middle-ground not yet considered?
The Nets receive no benefits of losing this year or next — the Celtics can swap picks in ’17 and outright own the Nets’ first-rounder in ’18 — so it may behoove the franchise to lock into mid-tier free agents that can entice superstar talent down the line. Of course, context is crucial — cost, length of contract, etc — but the Nets, who could have the league’s third most amount of cap space depending on what they do with Jarrett Jack’s team option, have some serious cash to play with this summer.
Adding fuel to the fire, Steve Kyler, another writer for Basketball Insiders, tweeted about some potential free agent rumblings:
Names I have heard connected to the Nets were Jeremy Lin, Jamal Crawford and Horford. https://t.co/6GupVYHoyb
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 27, 2016
Jeremy Lin is a familiar name given his relationship with Atkinson, the other two, Horford and Crawford, are not only new, but surprising. Horford is a 4x All-Star that has been linked with teams like the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Boston as, perhaps, the final piece to a franchise on the verge of big-time success. But the Nets?
In an interview with ESPN from March, Horford spoke about the Atkinson-to-Brooklyn news and glowed about his then-assistant coach:
“He believes you can improve as a player, even at the highest level, and that there’s always something you can add to your game,” Hawks big man Al Horford says. “He’s been here for three years with me, and he’s challenged me. For instance, before he got here, I was pretty much a shooter on the pick-and-pop. I was never really driving. Kenny has challenged me to put the ball on the floor. It’s something we’ve worked on together, and now it’s something I feel comfortable doing.”
Although insanely tenuous, Atkinson is the head coach of the Dominican Republic basketball team, add that in with a max contract and other cap space to boot — could that be enough to lure him way from more winning-ready teams? Unlikely, but it may be the most defined connection Brooklyn has to an unrestricted free agent yet.
While Marks’ summer plans may come as a surprise to some, a truly patient rebuild, ala the Oklahoma City Thunder, is likely not owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s style. The idea of a quick turnaround is low-key terrifying and reminders of Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, and Kevin Garnett all rush back at once — but if this is executed correctly, it wouldn’t be strange to see the Nets back in the playoffs before long.
The Nets are allowed to talk to free agents on July 1st and can officially sign them on July 7th.