Growing up in New Zealand, Sean Marks never thought he’d be on a podium being introduced as a General Manager of a professional basketball team in New York. Now, the Kiwi has been tasked with turning around a moribund franchise in Brooklyn, but he says he’s up to the task.
“I didn’t dream that I’d be the GM of the Nets, but as I said before, I’m privileged to be that now,” said Marks during his introductory press conference at Barclays Center on Friday.
Marks was introduced to the media one day after signing a reported four-year deal to take over from Billy King, who was reassigned from the general manager role last month when the Nets also fired head coach Lionel Hollins.
“After an exhaustive vetting process, we are delighted to have Sean as our general manager,” owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement on Thursday. “His experience on the court, in coaching and management gives him a 360 degree view of the job at hand.
“His background helping to build one of the greatest teams in the NBA gives him an unparalleled frame of reference. And he impressed us all with his vision, his values, his personality and his enthusiasm for the club. The vote to select him from an incredible list of talent was unanimous.”
Marks, 40, ended his 12-year NBA playing career after the 2010–11 season, and joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2013, serving as an assistant coach and most recently as assistant general manager. Marks is hoping the culmination of those experiences will serve him well as he enters the new chapter of his career.
“I’ve had the opportunity from being a journeyman as a player, I’ve got to see many teams around the league and around the world, and seen how things were done differently and how things were done the same,” Marks said. “I hope that I can capture all that I’ve learned and bring it to [Brooklyn], and I have a clear vision of what I’d like to implement here.”
The New Zealand native, who was hired just hours before Thursday’s trade deadline, is aware of the challenges ahead (Brooklyn do not own their own draft pick until 2019), but he added that hopes to hire a coach, and expand the Nets’ staff in the next few months. Now, Marks will try to use what he learned in San Antonio to build a respectable franchise in Brooklyn.
“It’s certainly special there [San Antonio],” Marks commented. “I think ‘culture’ is a term that gets thrown about pretty loosely, ‘Oh, we’re going to bring that culture …’ The people within the organization are going to define the culture. The hires that will be made over the next two, three, four months – those are the people that will be the right people to push that culture, and drive that culture. You’ll see that culture not only on the court, but it’ll be behind the scenes, it’ll be within the community, we’ll all be on the same page with a clear vision.”
Building a competitive roster through the draft isn’t an option for the Nets just yet – they’ve traded away their 2016 and 2018 first-round picks and may have to swap it in 2017 – but Marks is sure that the team still has other options when it comes to rebuilding.
“Draft picks are one way to build a team,” Marks believes. ”But there’s other ways to do it. You can commit to free agency …. what I’ve learned is, and I’ve seen it done throughout the NBA, where you’re building through free-agency, you’re building through the European market, you’re building within your D-League franchise and developing players there. So, yes, not having a draft pick as we stand right now [but] that can change.
“I think you look for players that will fit within your culture. You can bring in star players, but if he doesn’t fit in within your vision of where you’re going, that can derail a system as well. So whoever we bring in here they’re gonna play team basketball, they’re gonna be competitive on the floor, the coach is gonna have a defensive mindset and a system that gets them playing well. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be a star player; I can’t tell you if it’s going to be a young player; there’s certainly gonna be some vets. Every team needs leadership – whether that comes in the way of a star player, whether that comes in the form of a guy who’s 12th or 13th man on the bench.”
Much like what the Spurs do with their European scouting, and given his ties back to the Oceania region, it’s also conceivable that Marks may look to his homeland, or even Australia, to find the next emerging star for Brooklyn.
“We’ve seen it done countless times, and the world is such a small place now that we’ll be scouting everywhere,” he maintained. “We’ve got scouts all around the world and we’ll find the best for Brooklyn and we’ll be bringing them here.”
All images courtesy of: Brooklyn Nets