When Sean Marks took over as Nets general manager four years ago, he faced a major rebuilding project. And when he looked around the Nets’ first practice in the Disney World “bubble” on Thursday as the NBA prepares to resume the season, Marks could have said the same thing about the seventh-seeded but roster-depleted Nets, who are missing three injured players and three others who are not in Orlando because they either tested positive for COVID-19 or opted out.
After previously signing free-agent Tyler Johnson, the Nets on Thursday announced the signings of veterans Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley. They have two more roster spots open, and reportedly are working on deals with young G League players Donta Hall and Justin Anderson, but Marks couldn’t comment on those prospective deals because they aren’t official. Marks said Beasley has joined the Nets, but Johnson is not yet in Orlando for personal reasons but will join them soon.
The signings of 19-year veteran Crawford and 12-year veteran Beasley, neither of whom played earlier this season, indicated Marks’ desire to add a veteran presence.
“We had a really good debate about that,” Marks said in a teleconference with reporters when asked why he didn’t bring in developmental prospects. “As it stands right now, we’re in the playoffs, and our objective is to compete as well as we can while we’re down here…We’re evaluating right now for not only this year but next year’s free agency as well.”
The 6-9 Beasley can play multiple frontcourt positions, but he also is a good friend of Kevin Durant, who is not in Orlando while rehabbing from surgery. Marks said Durant was not consulted, but he certainly is aware of Durant’s relationship with Beasley.
“It is probably well-documented over the course of the last few years that those two are close,” Marks said. “But that wasn’t a factor in this. We are looking at ‘best available,’ and Mike certainly is that.”
Crawford’s signing was announced shortly after the Beasley deal, and Caris LeVert welcomed a veteran he has a connection with because they both played at Michigan.
“When I was a kid, he was like my favorite player,” LeVert said of the high-scoring shooting guard during a Zoom call with reporters. “When I went to Michigan, he reached out to me, and we’ve kind of been big brother/little brother ever since. I spoke to him yesterday. Can’t wait to get him out here.”
The Nets might be a little undersized in Orlando because of all the roster changes, but they won’t lack for shooters or experience. Veteran Joe Harris expressed his confidence in Crawford and Beasley to make an immediate impact. “We’re fortunate to pick up two really good players,” Harris said in the Zoom session. “Jamal obviously has been around this league for a long time, had an unbelievable career. If anything, he provides a great voice for us. He’s somebody who has had a lot of success and is going to be able to just help out from an intangible leadership aspect.
“Same thing with Beasley, too. He’s played a lot in this league and is an extremely talented player. I think they’re both just going to be able to plug in right away. They’re smart, heady guys...and I think their transition will be pretty seamless for us.”
The newcomers all must get through six consecutive days of quarantine without testing positive for COVID-19 before they can join practice. But coach Jacque Vaughn is looking forward to blending in their talents.
Speaking in general of the veteran acquisitions, Vaughn said, “At the end of the day, we wanted this group to know we’re here to win basketball games and to maximize this team.”