Nets GM Sean Marks sends subtle James Harden message to Rockets

Nets GM Sean Marks sends subtle James Harden message to Rockets

Nets GM Sean Marks was speaking with the media, but he was talking to the Rockets.


With the NBA having finally approved Brooklyn’s NBA Draft-night trades late Thursday evening, Marks held a press conference that was a display in long-distance negotiations. Without ever saying the words “James” or “Harden,” he sent multiple subtle messages to Houston, his players and his fans.


While both Harden and Nets star Kevin Durant are pushing to get Harden to Brooklyn, Marks was clear in saying the Nets are going to seize their moment (translation: We’re interested) but won’t mortgage their future (translation: We’re not suckers).


“If you put it like ‘mortgage’ the future, I’d probably say no. There becomes a fine line where this is what we’re willing to do, not only in a trade for a star but every trade,” Marks said. “We want to build something sustainable. This isn’t something that’s a fleeting moment, go all-in and a year or two from now we’re here (saying) now we’ve got to completely rebuild and we don’t have assets to rebuild with.


“There’s the other side of take advantage of what we have right now, take advantage of the moment. We obviously have a talented group we can put on the court as-is…Until we know what deals are being offered or we’re offering, it’d be difficult to say. But mortgaging your future? No, we wouldn’t want to do that.”


What’s being offered is Harden, winner of the last three scoring titles. What’s in question is whether what the Nets have to offer – Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and picks – is enough to get him.


Houston’s opening salvo was telling ESPN’s Tim McMahon “we’re comfortable being uncomfortable,” implying they’d keep Harden into the season rather than trade him. But in less than a week, they were signing a different tune with McMahon saying on the Hoops Collective “there’s a realization, you know, his mind is made up.”


So Houston has acknowledged reality and is now just haggling over price. And so is Brooklyn.


“It’s very difficult to discuss hypotheticals; we just don’t know what’s out there, we don’t know when it’s going to come to fruition,” Marks said. “All you can do is prepare yourself to put the best roster you possibly can forward. We like what we have right now,” insisted Marks, who is still intent on re-signing free agent Joe Harris.


“We just have to be ready and flexible for whatever happens, and hopefully the decisions we make put the best roster available on the court. I couldn’t tell you how we’d make trades and whether that involves going after a bigger piece or whether that involves playing around the edges.”

Dinwiddie is believed to be attracting attention from several Western Conference teams. And now representing himself, the point guard – who has an opt-out after this coming season – can certainly market himself.


Everybody in the NBA saw how messy Anthony Davis’ exit from New Orleans was. Marks is proud of the culture the Nets have built, but is also cognizant of being above board and open with his players.


“I don’t know if it’s the ugly part of the business, the strange part of the business, the awkward part; I think it needs to be discussed,” said Marks. “I’ve talked to several of our players about this and just said, ‘Look, forget the rumors. Let’s just go out there and concentrate on what we have in hand, which is the group that’s here.’


“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said ‘Nothing is ever going to happen.’ At the same time, they understand this is a business. Let’s be prepared. I sincerely mean it; I like this group we have…If things change, things change. You have to have those honest conversations with players as it goes and not let the rumors simmer in the background.”



Marks reiterated that keeping Harris is atop his list.


“That’s definitely a priority. We’d hope that we can continue to build this with Joe.”