YES Network announcer Ian Eagle is excited about the new era of the Brooklyn Nets, led by General Manager Sean Marks.
Eagle is encouraged by how Marks is building this team, the hiring of Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, and the signing of point guard Jeremy Lin.
Jason Schott: Ready for the new season of Nets basketball?
Ian Eagle: I am, it's new, definitely new.
JS: New GM Sean Marks came at the end of last season. What have you thought of him?
IE: Very impressed. Sean, you can understand why he got a GM job so early in his front office career. He has a plan, comes from a winning culture (San Antonio Spurs), and is trying to bring some of that mindset to Brooklyn. It's been a shift, though. You can feel that it's different. Their approach is different, and they're trying to do it the right way.
JS: What about Head Coach Kenny Atkinson?
IE: Very impressed. You hear the term 'gym rat,' I think he's the epitome of it. It's a misnomer and a misconception that players don't work hard, that players don't really care about improving - of course they do, because that gets them bigger contracts down the road. If you can make a player better, he will be forever grateful. Kenny Arkinson has made players better, so with that being the backdrop of his career and his philosophy, I think these players are going to really enjoy playing for him.
JS: One thing that's been lacking with the Nets, with all the coaches they have had, has been a system, a way to do things from top to bottom. How will Atkinson change that pattern?
IE: I think player development has been a problem, and they recognized that that area needed to improve, and they addressed it with a guy that is known around the league as one of the best in that area. Now, he's a new head coach, with that comes other challenges, and he knows that. He's not going to know everything right away, but his relationship with players, his dedication to the craft, and I think the fact that he's done it all over the world from the lowest rung now to the highest gives him an appreciation that he is now a head coach in the NBA. He truly appreciates this opportunity. This isn't someone that just expected for this to happen. He's not going to blow this chance, I know this much about him.
JS: Add in the fact that he has Jeremy Lin with him. Lin played his best basketball across town with Atkinson as an assistant coach with the Knicks.
IE: There's no doubt that the reason Jeremy Lin is in Brooklyn right now is because of Kenny Atkinson. I think he could have gotten a comparable deal at a number of other stops in the NBA. He took this because he believes in Kenny Atkinson, and I do think there's a part of him that truly enjoyed playing in New York. He wanted to come back, just in a different uniform.
JS: What do you think of the moves in general, drafting players like Isaiah Whitehead and Caris LeVert and signing veterans like Trevor Booker, Luis Scola, and Randy Foye? This could be a pretty fun team to watch.
IE: Yeah, look, there's a lot of potential , we know how that works in sports. You have to see it, you have to actually see how it all comes together, but they're trying to do it a different way. They understand they have to do it a different way. They're not trying to hit the ball out of the park. They're trying to hit some doubles and find some players that are quality people and want to be part of this team concept and this change in culture. It's the first step.
JS: Even if they don't make the playoffs the first couple years together, Brooklyn Nets fans know this is a team they could get behind and they know that these guys aren't going anywhere and they will be together for a long time.
IE: I think so. I think because they don't have a lot of draft picks, they have to be smart in how they go about their business. They don't really have a safety net; a lot of teams do. When you own your picks, if you have a poor season, if you 'tank,' you know that there's still a pot of gold potentially at the end of the rainbow. The Nets aren't in that situation, so I think every move is made with a greater move in mind. They're not just senselessly signing players. Everything has been strategic in how they go about their business. That was an important step for this team.