Colangelo: No contact from Nets
Posted on: June 26, 2010 11:42 pm
If Mikhail Prokhorov's grand plan in forcing Rod Thorn out of the Nets' presidency involves hiring Jerry Colangelo to replace him, this is news to Jerry Colangelo. The managing director of USA Basketball told CBSSports.com Saturday night he has yet to hear from the Nets.
Colangelo said in a text message that there's been "no call" from the Nets and "no contact" between the franchise and the architect of USA Basketball's resurgence, which not coincidentally was fueled by several members of the elite 2010 free-agent class. In addition to Colangelo's track record as one of the game's shrewdest executives and innovators, his close relationship with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others who have thrived under Colangelo's leadership with USA Basketball enhances his value to teams looking to pursue those and other free agents.
Though he has yet to hear from the Nets, Colangelo remains interested in speaking with New Jersey officials if the team is interested in him. In that regard, nothing has changed since All-Star weekend in Dallas, when Colangelo said he'd listen to what then-prospective owner Prokhorov had to say if he wanted to discuss Colangelo running the team that will be moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., in two years.
Thorn's departure was surprising for its timing, but not stunning in the grand scheme of things. That's partly because Thorn has privately contemplated retirement in recent years and partly due to a new normal among NBA owners who have just endured two of the worst financial years in league history. According to two people familiar with the situation, Thorn was asked to take a massive pay cut -- as much as 80 percent, the sources said -- to stay with the team after his contract expired June 30. Thorn, described as "emotional" over the request, declined the insult but agreed to stay on through July 15 to help the Nets navigate the all-important free-agent period that begins July 1.
Thorn was by no means the first GM or team president asked to take a haircut on his salary in recent months and years, but the fact that it happened to one of the most experienced and respected executives in the sport sent a chill through the GM ranks over the past 24 hours. A year ago, according to a source, Sacramento GM Geoff Petrie accepted a similarly extreme pay cut when he agreed to a three-year extension with the Kings. This summer, Steve Kerr left the Suns after owner Robert Sarver insisted on a pay cut. Kevin Pritchard, already one of the lowest-paid executives in the league, was unceremoniously fired an hour before the draft Thursday night.
One of the people familiar with the Nets' situation said Prokhorov's motivation in low-balling Thorn was to force him out and bring in someone with a "younger voice." Of course, if Prokhorov winds up hiring the similarly seasoned Colangelo, the Russian billionaire will be in no position to scrimp. He'll have to pay top ruble for one of the most respected basketball men in the sport, especially given Colangelo's strong ties to marquee free agents who are fiercely loyal to him due to his resurrection of USA Basketball on the world stage.
Which brings us to another reason that Colangelo's candidacy for the Nets' job makes sense: Prokhorov's goal of making the Nets a global franchise, which coincides with LeBron's desire to be a global icon, would only be enhanced by Colangelo's international basketball reputation and experience. But of course, that would come at a price.