Nets general manager Sean Marks speaks to the media after...

Nets general manager Sean Marks speaks to the media after practice at the HSS Training Center in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Credit: Ed Quinn

This mess is not Jacque Vaughn‘s fault.

It’s not Vaughn's fault the Nets don’t have any All-Stars on their roster. It’s not his fault that three of the most talented players ever to wear a Nets uniform all saw something about the culture in Brooklyn that made them want to jump ship. And it’s not his fault that the pieces the organization got back for them aren’t playing at a high enough level to inspire anyone to become a Nets fan.

While it’s true that Vaughn, who was fired Monday, was not the right coach for this team, it’s become pretty clear that Sean Marks is not the right general manager.

Marks is about to embark on his fourth coaching search in the eight years he’s been in charge of the team. That’s three more coaching searches under his watch than the number of playoff series the Nets have won  under his watch.

“We all need to take accountability for this. I need to take accountability,” Marks said Tuesday when asked what needed to happen for the team to be seen as an attractive destination again. “The roster is my responsibility . . . We can all look in the mirror and say what can we have done differently? What could we have done better?.”

Yes, the roster is Marks’ responsibility and this collection of players isn’t one that sells tickets or even plays hard. While assembling a team through drafts, trades and free-agent signings is the part of a general manager’s job that we all talk about most, there are other important duties when it comes to building and sustaining a top team.

Marks has failed miserably at two of them. He has repeatedly failed to hire the right person to coach the players he has assembled, and — more important — he has continually misread the mindset of his star players, underestimating how their unhappiness could torpedo the team.

After firing their head coach, the Brooklyn Nets are looking to find their way into the play-in tournament. Newsday's Evan Barnes reports. Credit: Newsday/Ed Quinn

Let’s start with the coaching situation. Kevin Ollie, the Nets' interim coach, is the fifth man to lead the team during Marks’ tenure. Only one coach in this lineup, Kenny Atkinson, did the kind of job that moved this franchise forward. After turning a young, rebuilding team into one attractive enough that the franchise was able to attract Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Atkinson was released in favor of Marks' friend Steve Nash.

Nash was a great point guard who never had been a head coach. No matter. He had a 20-year relationship with Marks, who apparently thought that was enough to coach a championship caliber team. It quickly became clear that Nash was in over his head as he famously failed to call timeouts when his team needed them, which ended up costing them dearly in 2022 when they were swept by the Celtics in the first round.

Next up was Vaughn, who was fine as long as he was coaching future Hall of Famers but struggled to adjust to Mikal Bridges and the new set of players that replaced the traded Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Yet, the problems that Marks has had are bigger than failing to pick the right coach. He’s also failed to truly understand the stars he has, let alone convince them that this is a place they want to stay.

I’m not sure anyone out there could completely understand Irving, but things could have gone a lot better with Durant and Harden which leads directly to the mess the Nets currently find themselves in.

Marks may have ticked off his fan base by trading away promising young players Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert for Harden, but his biggest failure is what followed after. Somehow Marks failed to get an early read on Harden’s desire to leave the next season.

As early as mid-January there were rumbling around the league that Harden was unhappy in Brooklyn and wanted out. Harden made it clear to reporters that he was frustrated that Irving wouldn’t take the COVID-19 vaccine that would have allowed him to play full-time and there were repeatedly grumblings that he wasn’t happy with Nash’s rotations and lack of play-calling at the end of games.

Had Marks listened to those rumblings early, he might not have had to scramble days before the trade deadline and have gotten something better than Ben Simmons and his brick of a contract. Had he listened to Durant in the 2022 offseason, he might have fired Nash over the summer, gone on an extensive coaching search and found someone who could convince Durant that he could win here with this team.

The days of making a superstar happy are long gone given that the Nets don't have any. And all the Nets have to show for it is one playoff series win, which incidentally is the same number of playoff series the team won under Billy King, Marks’ much maligned predecessor.

The Nets, once again. are a mess and starting all over again.

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