Brooklyn Nets GM Marks on NYC vaccine mandate and high expectations: "We're ready"
The manager believes that his team will be prepared regardless of the affects of the mandate as the NBA regular season fast approaches.
As pressure mounts on various institutions to safeguard themselves against the covid-19 pandemic, the NBA is facing up to what that means.
The Brooklyn Nets and their roster problem
Were the NBA regular season to start today, some players would simply not be eligible to play due to New York City's vaccine mandate. That was the message from Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks. "Regarding if they could play today, I can't comment on who could play and so forth," Marks stated during the Net's preseason press conference on Tuesday.
"There would obviously be a couple people missing from that picture. I won't get into who it is, but we feel confident in the following several days before camp everybody would be allowed to participate and so forth." Questioned on whether or not the issue of player absences would be resolved before the regular season begins next month, Marks responded with one word, "Correct."
The Nets & the New York City vaccine mandate
In early September the NBA informed all teams that any players who play for clubs based in cities with covid-19 vaccine mandates in place - at present New York City and San Francisco - will have to abide by them. That is to say that should a player not be vaccinated, he will be barred from participation.
The New York executive order - in effect from September 13th - outlined various regulations, however the most pertinent one states that anyone over the age of 12 won't be allowed to enter "certain covered premises" inside the city - including Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden and any other indoor gym or fitness setting, without providing proof of at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Exceptions are limited to approved medical or religious cases.
The Nets who will play their first preseason game in Brooklyn on October 8th and their first regular season home game on the 24th, have time, but not much. "Obviously I can't get into details for a variety of reasons, whether it's HIPAA violations or whoever it may be, but I think we all understand what's at stake and we've had very candid conversations," Marks said when asked about discussions with the players about the vaccine. "Those are individual decisions. ... It's obviously out of our control."
The Nets are ready, but are Harden & Irving
"We are supporting getting the vaccination and putting out a healthy squad. So at this point, I think we're ready to go into the season, we don't see these - whether it's a city- wide mandate or a league mandate to follow - being any sort of hindrance to us putting out a team."
Marks also touched on the status of James Harden and Kyrie Irving, both of whom are yet to renew. "We've had very positive conversations with both those guys and - whether it's family members, people and so forth - I think it always helps to do these things in person," Marks said.
"With this being summer, we're very cognizant of letting people have their own time away before we all get back into the swing of things here. We're looking forward to sitting down with them over the course of the next week, two weeks, and furthering those discussions."
Irving & Harden renewal a matter of time
"I haven't really looked at it as a distraction, per se," Marks said. "Those guys know exactly how we feel, and I think they've been vocal about wanting to be part of this and build this together.
"I think we've got an opportunity to hopefully build something special here for the foreseeable future. The fact that they want to collaborate, they want to come here together, they want to build this together. I look forward to those discussions with Steve [Nash] and myself and obviously ownership, who's been incredibly supportive through this whole thing, and with the players. Just like any decision, it's a partnership and it's a collaboration."
Are the Nets NBA champions in the making?
Having lost out in dramatic fashion - to eventual champions Milwaukee Bucks - in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Nets are favorites to take the title this season. Marks showed no signs of shying away from the expectation in his response. "I think our goal is to be the last team standing," Marks said. "There's probably, my guess, six, eight,
10 teams that have that same similar goal and a realistic one. For us, it's about owning that and not shying away from it and doing everything we possibly can. Putting people into place - whether it's staff members, players, rounding out the roster - in order to try and accomplish that."