Nets’ culture needs to be driven by players

For the first several years of Nets general manager Sean Marks’ rebuilding process, one couldn’t spend five minutes in the building without hearing the buzzword “culture.”

In Marks ‘first comments since the Nets’ first-round sweep at the hands of Boston, he admitted Wednesday that ballyhooed culture has taken a big hit.

“Did we take a step back? Without a doubt. The culture isn’t what it quite was. It’s going to be our job to pick that up, ”Marks said. “Between [coach] Steve [Nash] and myself as the leaders of that, we’ll certainly be doing that.

“But we’ve got to find the players that’ll drive that culture. It has to be driven by players. It can’t be driven by one or two people. It’s got to be driven by the players. They’ve got to want it. We’ve got to find players that have the characteristics that support that, which is going to be grit, determination and fight. ”

Nets GM Sean Marks speaks to the media during a press conference at the Nets training facility.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Po

Finding them this summer is how Marks will earn his pay.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “the buck stops here.”

Marks pushed back on the assertion that the Nets leaned too far into player empowerment with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, saying it was often misunderstood. But considering not just the playoff sweep but the internal drama that led to it, it’s clear the Nets must add the right grown-ups to their locker room.

“There’s been far too much debate, discussion, scuttlebutt – whatever you want to call it – about distractions and about things that are outside of basketball, ahead we’d like to focus on doing the things that got us here in the first place, ”Marks said. “That’s focusing on the grit, the resilience and putting a team together that encompasses that and the borough of Brooklyn can be proud of.

“It starts with roster construction, it starts with our preparation, it starts with the summertime. We’ve added ourselves in the past with finding players with a chip on their shoulder, with a resilience, with something to prove. We’re going to have to go back to that. We’re going to have to go back to looking more in their development, more at finding the right characteristics of a player that fits here. ”

Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) and forward Kevin Durant (7) drop back on defense during the second quarter of Game 4 of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Durant drop back on defense during Game 4 against the Celtics.
Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

While Marks said the goal with this roster is still “to be the last team standing,” he also said he realizes huge contracts doled out to the likes of Durant, Ben Simmons and (presumably) Irving will make the rest of the roster a revolving door. There will be players coming on rookie deals and veteran minimums.

“Our team is going to look vastly different every single year. It has to, if you look at our financials, ”Marks said. “It’s going to be a revolving circle down there. We’ve got to draft right; our group has shown that we can draft right. Our player development guys have shown they’ve developed players. The culture is going to always change and tweak as to who comes in here. ”

The Nets’ acquisitions from last summer, Jevon Carter and James Johnson, are long gone, so that revolving circle will have to land on more players like former Nets Jeff Green, Garrett Temple, Jared Dudley and Ed Davis to get this chemical mix right.

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