Nets GM Sean Marks speaks at the HSS Training Center...

Nets GM Sean Marks speaks at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn on Feb. 20, 2024. Credit: Ed Quinn

Sean Marks inherited a rebuilding situation with the Nets when he was hired in 2016 as general manager. Eight years later, he pulled the lever to start another one.

Trading Mikal Bridges was a surprise, given how often the Nets refused past offers for him. Marks said Monday that it came down to the Knicks’ package, which included five first-round picks and a 2028 first-round pick swap.

“There’s no shortage of interest in Mikal around the league, right, for the player he is, the person he is and obviously the contract he’s on,” Marks said. “But in terms of this particular deal, this was by far the best deal for our organization at this particular time to do it.”

He added that the talks with Knicks president Leon Rose came together quickly. They spoke for “a couple of days” before the deal happened.

Marks also disputed reports that Bridges sped things up by asking to be traded.

“Mikal didn’t know until I called him and told him, ‘Hey, look, we’re getting down here,’ ” Marks said. “I think it’s been reported that Mikal wanted to leave or requested a trade. That could not be further from the truth. I think that’s just not in Mikal’s character. It’s not who he is. And that definitely did not happen.”

What has happened is that the Nets chose to start over. There’s no guarantee how long the rebuild will be, but Marks hopes it won’t be lengthy.

In the short term, the Nets could be in for a long 2024-25 season. They missed the playoffs last season with Bridges, and without him, it will be a tough road even to reach the play-in tournament.

Yet Marks has faith that the Nets can rebound sooner rather than later, especially being aided by four first-round picks in what’s regarded as a strong 2025 draft class.

“Do I think it’s going to take time? I mean, I think we’ll be strategic in it,” Marks said.

“But I do think being in this market, with this amount of draft assets, we’ve done it before. Not that it’s going to be expedited by any means, but I don’t think it’s a long process, either.”

The Nets hope so. With Bridges gone, more responsibility will fall on Nic Claxton, who re-signed for four years and $100 million, and Cam Thomas, last season’s leading scorer.

It also means bigger roles for the rest of the Nets’ young players.

Second-year center Noah Clowney was playing pool with his family when he saw on his phone that Bridges had been traded.

At first, it was a shock, but Clowney saw how it benefited both Bridges and himself.

“I feel like Mikal should almost feel proud in a sense,” Clowney said. “To get traded for five first-round picks is superstar-level-type things. But on the contrary, it’s an opportunity. No shade to [Mikal]. That’s my dog. I love him, but to see us going into more of a rebuilding standpoint, that’s an amazing opportunity to me and I got to try to take advantage of that.”

The Nets hope so, although Marks stressed having patience with whatever moves come next.

Unlike 2016, the Nets have more draft assets on their side. They have 10 first-round picks from 2025-28, including their own draft pick in 2025 and 2026 thanks to a trade with the Rockets. They also have three first-round picks in 2029.

Still, trading away your best player is a gamble.

When he interviewed new coach Jordi Fernandez, Marks told him that trading Bridges could be an option. Now that it’s done, it might not be the last move between now and training camp in October.

Marks is comfortable that the lessons learned eight years ago can work in the team’s favor starting another rebuild.

“I think you have to look at yourself in the mirror and as an organization, you go, OK, what’s the best path for us moving forward here and how do we do this?” he said. “And how do we have that sustainable success that we want?

“So when you’re able to garner that amount of draft assets over the course of the last year, I think that’s going to help us in our trajectory, long term and so forth.”

More Brooklyn Nets

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.