This summer, Sean Marks and Co. have an opportunity to kick-start a new NBA era in Brooklyn by pursuing a new franchise cornerstone — let’s explore how that could look.
As teams are eliminated from the 2023 NBA Playoffs, Boardroom is running a series boiling down each team’s offseason into one question that supersedes all others. First up are the Brooklyn Nets, who were swept by the Philadelphia 76ers on April 22 in four games.
Nets general manager Sean Marks won two NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs — one as a player and another as an assistant coach. Getting to play with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, and coach those three in addition to Kawhi Leonard surely instilled in the 47-year-old what fans and execs alike all know: To contend for and win titles in this league, you need superstars.
Noting the blockbuster 2012 trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce under previous management that ultimately set the franchise back, Marks diligently cultivated a player-first culture of hard-nosed, hungry, emerging talent that could one day help bring superstars aboard via free agency or trade. That vision came to fruition when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed in 2019 and when James Harden was acquired in 2021. The results were disappointing, however, with the team posting just one postseason series win during this period before Durant and Irving were traded in separate deals in February.
While that particular era of Nets stardom is now in the rearview, there’s no question that Marks is already on the hunt for a way to break back into the talent pool penthouse.
So, the big Brooklyn Nets offseason question is this: When will the Nets make their next superstar swing?
It’s an inconvenient truth in Kings County that the Houston Rockets control the Nets’ next four drafts either outright or via pick swaps from the James Harden trade, so tanking for the next Victor Wembanyama is out of the question. But Brooklyn has a stash of assets that will put them in the superstar acquisition conversation, including Phoenix’s first-rounders in 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029, a heavily protected 2027 first from Philadelphia, and Dallas’ first in 2029.
If you’re a young player the Nets acquired over the last few months, then, perhaps you ought to consider renting in NYC rather than buying. For now, Mikal Bridges is an ascendant star with three more seasons of team-friendly control, Cam Johnson will get a lucrative extension in the summer, and young contributors like Nic Claxton and Cam Thomas will likely be mentioned in trade whispers before next season begins.
Given the allure of the Five Boroughs and the team’s willingness to spend big, Brooklyn is in a position to be in the conversation for the next perennial All-Star that asks out or otherwise ends up on the trade market. Could that be Damian Lillard, already whispered about in reports? Could that be Trae Young if Atlanta decides it must go in another direction? Could that be a Luka Dončić in the future, or even Joel Embiid if Philly is convinced its ceiling is just below Larry O’Brien Trophy levels?
The point is that the Nets will be ready to pounce, not “if.” After all, it’s a superstar’s world in the NBA, and Sean Marks knows that acquiring prime movers is a major part of his job. Now, it’s all about seizing on the right opportunity to make his move.
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