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GM Sean Marks gives State of the Nets address

Marks revealed that four players with COVID-19 have been 'cleared'

April 2, 2020 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks held a conference call Wednesday to address topics ranging from when, or if, the NBA season would continue to whether or not he was already considering new head coaching candiates for next season.

But the most important subject on the docket was the state of the four Nets players, including superstar Kevin Durant, that contracted the potentially deadly coronavirus that caused the NBA to pause its campaign back on March 11.

“So far, everybody is healthy,” Marks said approximately two weeks after the franchise revealed that Durant and three unidentified Nets had been isolated and under the care of team physicians.

“The guys that tested positive [for COVID-19] have cleared their 14 days self-isolation and quarantine,” he added. “They are still practicing with social distancing like the rest of us. They are cleared like everybody, like the rest of the team and the staff right now.”

Practicing at a safe distance isn’t ideal for an NBA team, but nothing is these days as the league is considering several options to kick-start its season again after the pandemic halted play in professional and amateur leagues across the globe last month.

The Nets (30-34), currently sitting in the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, began a four-game West Coast swing with a thrilling 104-102 victory over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on March 10.

They were slated to play in San Francisco two nights later against the Golden State Warriors, albeit before an empty Chase Center, but the league shut down on the eve of that contest and the Nets haven’t played since.

Since returning to Brooklyn, the Nets have mostly kept their distance from the HSS Training Center while sheltering in place with family and loved ones.

Marks indicated that the team is doing its best to stay in get-ready-to-play mode, just in case NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his staff come up with a way for the league to resume activities, be it in May or June or even thereafter.

“Like all of us, the rest of New York and really the rest of the globe we’re trying to deal with this as best we can,” he noted.

“I have really been pleasantly surprised and pretty proud with how our guys and our staff have acted over the last three weeks, month of this, starting way back in Los Angeles when we left to go to Golden State. So it’s been a very fluid situation, something that changes if not daily, maybe sometimes hourly.”

With a national death toll over 5,000 now and nearly 50,000 fatalities worldwide due to the daunting virus, Marks knows it’s not his place to speak glibly about possible scenarios for the return of professional basketball.

Some have suggested that the league find a single arena to stage its remaining games and possiblty the playoffs with no fans present.

“That’s probably something I can’t comment on and say exactly what and where we think,” said Marks. “I think there’s just so many different scenarios.

“What I think we’ve seen before with commissioner Silver and the league, they have a proven track record of being very creative, being very fluid, having a collaborative approach to any different circumstance they’ve had. So it would not surprise me in the slightest when they do come out with whatever the next couple of months look like, we’ll all be in the know here.”

Marks made headlines across the country and was heaped with praise for the acquisitions of Durant and fellow headliner Kyrie Irving this past summer, but the Nets’ season hasn’t gone anything close to smoothly.

Durant has not played this year due to an Achilles injury suffered during last year’s NBA Finals with Golden State and Irving only suited up for 20 of Brooklyn’s first 64 games due to shoulder and knee injuries.

Injured Nets superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant could both be ready to return to action when, or if, the NBA season resumes. Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

Though there is a possibility that both could potentially be ready to play whenever the league resumes, Marks wouldn’t go so far as to speculate on the status of his two most valuable assets.

“I don’t think that’s fair to those athletes, nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. I think everyone is dealing with bigger items, far more pressing items,” Mark said.

“I do know that those two players are continuing their rehab. But when you’re practicing social distancing and you’re in self-isolation, I haven’t physically seen them in three or four weeks, so it’s difficult for me to gauge as well as the performance team to where they are.”

The COVID-19 outbreak also overshadowed Marks’ dismissal of Head Coach Kenny Atkinson last month, a move that thrust assistant Jacque Vaughn into an interim head coaching role and led to consecutive wins for the Nets before play was stopped.

While there has already been widespread speculation that the organization was seeking a full-time leader for the 2020-21 season, Marks again refused to bite.

“We are not reaching out to anybody right now,” he insisted. “That would completely not be fair to our group. I think what I’m seeing so far from how our group — with Jacque and his assistants — how they’re working through this and how they’re reaching out to players and their collaborative approach within the organization has been great.

“I think it’s extremely important that everybody has not only my support but the owner’s support and front office’s support during this time. That’s our priority.”

Until he receives notice regarding the status of the current campaign, Marks is doing his best to keep his players ready to go in case they get the call to return to action.

“From a team perspective, all I can say is we have to be preparing for everything,” he noted. “And that goes for keeping the schedule as-is to every single outcome you can possibly have.”

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