Blog Entry

Thorn stepping down as Nets' president (UPDATE)

Posted on: June 25, 2010 11:06 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2010 1:17 am
Following a bizarre trend that apparently dictates that it's better to be devoid of leadership at the most critical time in franchise history, the Nets will be without the executive who led them to two Finals appearances and gave them the best chance of succeeding in free agency. Rod Thorn is stepping down as team president effective July 15, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to Friday night.

You read that right: Thorn will be pulling the Summer of LeBron version of Kevin Pritchard's draft night, conducting the chase for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson -- a chase the franchise endured a payroll-gutting, 12-win season to engage in. When it's over, he's gone, according to the person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to announce the move.

While it was known that Thorn's contract was set to expire June 30, his departure is stunning considering his accomplishments and the importance of the free-agent negotiating period that begins July 1. Thorn has agreed to stay on until July 15 to help navigate free agency, but it's not clear what marquee player would choose to join the Nets in Newark, N.J., without knowing who's making the basketball decisions. The team won't move to its new digs in Brooklyn for two more years.

According to an executive with another team who is familiar with the situation, Thorn was asked to take a massive pay cut and balked. Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be a billionaire, but not when it comes to paying the person running his basketball team. "He wants a younger voice," the person said.

But that description contradicted a Bergen (N.J.) Record report early Saturday in which Jerry Colangelo was touted as the leading candidate to replace Thorn. The report, which hinted that Colangelo could have some role in the Nets' free-agent visit with James next week in Ohio, rekindled speculation that arose during All-Star weekend in Dallas. At that time, when Prokhorov's bid for the Nets was still being considered by the NBA's Board of Governors, Colangelo said he wasn't pursuing any jobs but would listen if the Nets called. The managing director of USA Basketball, Colangelo would be a key asset in the Nets' pursuit of James or other free agents from the 2008 Olympic team that won gold in Beijing. 

Unlike the Cavaliers and Clippers, the Nets at least do have a coach in place -- and perhaps Avery Johnson is angling for personnel authority, given that he stressed his desire for such control in other job interviews this summer. But without Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe, whom Prokhorov fired through the news media several weeks ago, the Nets will be without a credible basketball management figure at by far the most crucial point in the history of this meandering, mostly second-rate franchise.

Reached via text message Friday night, Thorn replied, "Right now, I have no comment."

The Nets are by no means the only team to gut itself of basketball intellect on the cusp of irreversibly important decisions. Suns owner Robert Sarver decided to cut ties with GM Steve Kerr at a time when Kerr and his assistant, David Griffin -- who also is departing -- were trying to negotiate an extension with star forward Amar'e Stoudemire. The Cavs decided to stumble into the most important month in Cleveland sports history -- and one that could change the NBA landscape forever -- without a coach or GM. Chris Grant, the replacement for former GM Danny Ferry, is indisputably talented but also has never been faced with circumstances as pressurized as possibly losing his city's biggest sports star since Jim Brown.

The Clippers, also entertaining false hope of luring major free agents, have yet to hire a coach. And the Trail Blazers -- though not free-agent players -- made a mockery of the GM profession Thursday when owner Paul Allen fired Pritchard an hour before the draft while instructing him to make his picks and trades before going home for good.

The only thing any of this proves, besides incompetence, is that there's no better job than being an unemployed or soon-to-be unemployed GM in the NBA. Either you're still getting paid by the team that fired you, which is good, or you're salivating over numerous job openings. Or both. But something you're not doing if you're a team without leadership is signing James or Wade as a free agent.

Since: Jun 30, 2010
Posted on: June 30, 2010 2:30 am
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Since: Sep 24, 2006
Posted on: June 26, 2010 10:52 am

Thorn stepping down as Nets' president (UPDATE)

The CBS Sportsline columnists/reporters have always seemed cardboard and two-dimensional to me ... however, about 6 months ago I heard Ken Berger on the John Thompson Radio Show on WTEM in Wash, DC market and he was actually very knowlegeable, articulate, and proved a veritable NBA resource.

But, c'mon Ken ... in this piece you are too sympathetic to Rod Thorn (and GM's in general).  The NBA, more than any other league, just recycles the same guys through the coaching and administrative ranks. 

Very Insular and almost Incestuous.

Doug Collins.  Mike Fratello.  Chris Wallace.  John Nash. 

It leads to a protectionist atmosphere of those IN the industry. 

It is not like they have some special skill set that cannot be replaced ... more power to Prokhorov and Allen and anyone else who actually own the teams. 

Remember, it is supposed to be SPORTS ... and NOT Entertainment.

Since: Jan 10, 2008
Posted on: June 26, 2010 10:21 am

Thorn stepping down as Nets' president (UPDATE)

This could also be a bad move by the owner by firing Thorn.  He did not step down, he was given an option...   With the new coach coming on board the Nets will be better tghan last year.  Give Avery a couple of years and the will start winning again.   The players need to be held responsible for the way they have been playing.   Good luck to the Nets next year and bring the # 3 pick Favors on board fast>>>

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: June 26, 2010 10:12 am

Thorn stepping down as Nets' president (UPDATE)

I'm not at all surpised, When a new owner takes over a team, he almost always wants to have new management in place. When a guy's buying the team with the worse record, you have to figure heads will roll. Thorn has to take a hit because he helped build this team that totally flopped. Overall, Thorn has a good body of work, but he had to see this coming.  

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