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Nets’ Sean Marks Drops Bombshell: Competitive Timetable Set to Explode after NBA Trade Deadline!

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Nets GM Sean Marks wants another quick fix, not a full reset.

Unlike last year, when they upended the franchise by trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets made no seismic changes as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline passed. This year’s deadline, like most of the NBA, was of the quieter variety.

The Nets found a stopgap replacement for disgruntled point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, swapping his expiring contract for Dennis Schroder from the Toronto Raptors, who has one year left on his contract at $13 million. They also moved on from expiring wing Royce O’Neale, sending him to the Phoenix Suns for Keita Bates-Diop and three second-round picks: two via Memphis in 2028 and 2029 and one in 2026 that is the least favorable of Detroit, Orlando, and Milwaukee.

Brooklyn acquired Thaddeus Young and Jordan Goodwin from Toronto and Phoenix, respectively, but waived both, along with Harry Giles, leaving one open roster spot.

Neither deal will leave fans running victory laps around Barclays Center. However, General Manager Sean Marks made both maneuvers with one goal in mind.

“We go into these days always thinking about future flexibility,” Marks said. “Try to maintain some level of sustainability when we’re looking at, how’s the team look this year? How’s it gonna look in six months time from now? How’s it gonna look in three, four years?… We feel pretty good about adding the players that we added, but at the same time, you’re keeping some of those draft assets as well. And again, that future flexibility.”

Flexibility is the name of the game for the Nets. The team has star aspirations after rebuffing a Houston Rockets trade offer for Mikal Bridges that would have returned several of their first-round picks from the James Harden deal. The move would allow the Nets to reset and enter a proper rebuild. However, Brooklyn reportedly has no interest in doing so at this time.

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After trading Durant and Irving, the Nets have seven tradable first-round picks to go after a marquee name to pair with the 27-year-old Bridges. That includes three distant unprotected firsts from Phoenix (2027, 2029) and Dallas (2029), which should be highly coveted. At 11th in the Eastern Conference with a 20-31 record, Brooklyn has underperformed this season with a core of Bridges (27), Cam Johnson (27), Nic Claxton (24) and Cam Thomas (22).

Despite this, Marks alluded to a potential accelerated timeline when discussing the team’s plans.

“You look at the age group of the guys that we have here and you’re sort of in that 22 to 25 to 27-year-old [range],” he said. “You got three or four years to sit there and go, ok, it’s gonna be fun to see what Mikal looks like when he gets to his prime, fun to see what Cam looks like when he gets to his prime, Nic Claxton, the list sort of goes on there. So I don’t wanna say we’re on a three-year timetable or a four-year timetable.”

“It could be faster than that. We’ve seen it move quicker than that in the past.”

But after a quiet deadline, the question remains: What star could become available within Mikal Bridges’ window? And how far does that get a Nets team with the NBA’s eighth-worst record this season?

Donovan Mitchell has been linked to Brooklyn over the last year. Ironically, the Cavaliers star walked into Barclays Center on trade deadline day and lit up the Nets for 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting during a 118-95 win. The New York native has shown well-documented interest in returning to play in his hometown. Mitchell is entering the final year of his contract next season and has been unwilling to sign an extension with Cleveland thus far.

Beyond that, it’s unclear what star the Nets could target. Joel Embiid was considered a flight risk in Philadelphia at the start of this season, with James Harden forcing his way out. However, Tyrese Maxey’s emergence stabilized the situation, securing his status with the 76ers, and Embiid suffered a meniscus injury that has cast uncertainty on his NBA future.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared to be another star candidate to enter the trade market. However, the Milwaukee Bucks responded to public pressure from the two-time MVP this summer, trading for Damian Lillard, after which Antetokounmpo signed a three-year max extension.

The uncertainty has drawn confusion and frustration from Nets fans. Many have questioned how far a Mitchell and Bridges pairing would get the team and whether he’ll even be available given the Cavaliers’ recent surge. If he is, would Brooklyn be able to maneuver other deals to trade for Mitchell while having enough assets left over to pursue another star?

The deeper you get into the hypotheticals, the more you realize how much would need to break right for the Nets to re-enter the contention conversation. This has led to questions about the viability of a plan centered around Bridges and whether Brooklyn should trade him to Houston, embracing a full rebuild with one of the NBA’s deepest stockpiles of draft picks.

Therein lies the conundrum for the Nets, a middling team — which may be too generous a description for this current iteration — attempting to sell its fanbase on the allure of another quick-fix star acquisition. However, Marks did it once before, assembling a big three of Durant, Irving, and James Harden. And while it didn’t work out, the GM remains confident in his body of work and the foundation left over as the Nets continue their pivot to a new era.

“Those fans seven or eight years ago were sitting here going they probably didn’t really know what the direction was then,” Marks said when I asked what his message would be to fans unsure of the team’s direction. “I have utmost faith in this group — this group of players and this staff — to go out there and put a sustainable product on the floor. That’s going to be a goal here, that we can compete night in and night out, something that the fans can get behind, and play the right brand of basketball.

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“We’ve talked about the quote-unquote Brooklyn grit all the time, right? That’s what it takes to sort of survive in this borough, and that’s the brand that we’re going to have to play out there and that’s behind some of the acquisitions and some of the trades that we’ve made over the course of these last 24 hours.”

“We look at our record and I say, look, we’d love to have a better record than we have right now. We know what fits with our timetable, what we’re looking for, and what we’re judging these guys on. Part of that is the moves we made at this deadline, the moves we’ll be making in the draft and then into free agency: who fits and who can be a net long term here?”

Despite Marks’ attempts to project optimism, the fact remains: the Nets traded away three generational talents in Durant, Irving, and Harden over the last two years and don’t have a single All-Star to show for it. While all three deals were made under the duress of trade demands, with Irving and Harden on expiring contracts, the desolate state of the roster remains a stain of his tenure that he has yet to clean off.

The signals have pointed towards another star pursuit, and Marks’ comments indicate confidence in the team’s ability to build a contending roster on the fly. However, if he’s wrong, the fans’ patience will have run out, and after seven years with one playoff series win, owner Joe Tsai will likely join them.


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