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.
Posted on: April 4, 2010 1:13 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2010 1:36 pm
BOSTON -- After LeBron James and Dwayne Wade both strongly hinted in the past week that they're considering skipping the World Championships in Turkey this summer, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo responded with a warning: Such a decision could jeopardize their spots on the 2012 Olympic team.
LeBron lobbed his own response back to Colangelo on Sunday: He doesn't think that's fair.
The war of words is on.
"I think everyone in the U.S.A. knows what type of commitment these guys have made, including myself, since 2003," James said before the Cavaliers played the Celtics. "I'm not trying to bash Jerry or anything like that, because he's a good guy and I respect him. I don't respect that because of the commitment we've all given to the U.S.A. Right off the bat, we didn't second guess it at all. If we're jeopardizing being in London, what can we do?"
In recruiting members of the 2008 Olympic gold medal team to return for the 2012 Olympics in London, Colangelo has consistently presented to them his desire for a two-year commitment: Win the 2010 worlds in Turkey to earn an automatic Olympic berth, and they get the summer of 2011 off.
But the summer of 2010 is more complicated for James, Wade, Chris Bosh and other 2008 Olympians who will have a chance to be unrestricted free agents on July 1. James also has plans to participate in the filming of a movie; the combination of on-court and off-court responsibilities would seem to make it difficult at best for him to travel to Turkey.
Last week, Colangelo told Yahoo! Sports, "There are no free passes to London." He has since backtracked somewhat, acknowledging that he doesn't expect free agents to practice with Team USA until their situations are resolved. It would be almost inconceivable for Colangelo to punish James for skipping the worlds by leaving him off the Olympic team for London. But in the meantime, he has to maintain the appearance of consistency; if James and Wade bow out, others could follow.
"If that is the case, we'll have to see when it happens," James said. "There's a lot that goes on with being a professional athlete other than just basketball."
Posted on: February 13, 2010 12:54 am
DALLAS -- Jerry Colangelo said Friday he's had no contact with the Nets about taking over their basketball operations, a move that could lead to his sidekick from USA Basketball, Mike Krzyzewski, joining him as coach. But if a team wanted to talk to him about getting back into the business of running an NBA team, Colangelo said he'd listen.
"I don’t feel compelled to do anything because I'm very happy with where I am in life," Colangelo said after a news conference announcing the 19 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "That’s how I really feel. I've had a great run. I've been blessed with a lot of success. But I'm not compelled to do a thing other than what I really enjoy doing. And so I'm never out there soliciting or looking for anything. Whenever opportunity knocks at the door, I think it’s incumbent upon anyone to talk. But I couldn’t be happier where I am."
Yahoo! Sports and the Record of Hackensack (N.J.) reported Friday that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the incoming Nets owner, seeks to install the dream team of Colangelo and Krzyzewski to a franchise that is on pace to equal the worst record in NBA history this season -- the 9-73 mark established by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. The connection is easy to decipher.
After restoring USA Basketball to its former glory with a gold-medal performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Colangelo has the unwavering respect of Olympians from that team -- several of whom have the chance to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Nets are close to clearing enough salary cap space to sign two free agents to the maximum contracts allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. At various times, the best of those potential free agents -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh -- have openly speculated about what it would be like to play on the same team.
As the architect of the Redeem Team last summer, Colangelo would be in a unique position to sell players on joining him in his next rebuilding job. Even as he assembles his roster for the World Championships in Turkey this summer, Colangelo won't have to solicit job offers from any number of cap-clearing teams. They'll come to him, for obvious reasons.
Speaking Friday at All-Star media day, Wade reiterated that he wants to stay in Miami and attract a second star player to join him. The Heat currently are positioned better than any other team for the 2010 free-agent bonanza, having Wade and enough cap space to sign another superstar. The Chicago Bulls are feverishly working on several trades that would put them on even footing with Miami and the Nets in that pursuit.
Prokhorov's possible interest in Colangelo has thrown team president Rod Thorn's future into doubt. The Record reported that Thorn's scheduled meeting with Prokhorov in Dallas this weekend was up in the air. By denying contact -- but not interest -- in the Nets' job, Colangelo left the door open to fielding Prokhorov's overture.
"In my career, I always had a little bit of an edge in my opinion because of my relationships with players," Colangelo said. "Why? I played. I coached. I was one of them. I remember a collective bargaining session and it was heated. The president (Patrick Ewing), he goes off on the owners. And I'm in the room there, in this conference room. He looks up and he sees me and he says, 'That goes for everybody except Jerry. He’s one of us.' Now that was a little embarrassing with the other guys there, but I always had relationships. I think my ability maybe with this run with USA Basketball was built on that. You can't demand respect. You’ve earned respect over a period of time, and usually it goes both ways."
Posted on: July 7, 2009 9:56 pm
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who guided Team USA to Olympic gold in Beijing last summer, has decided to accept an invitation to return for the 2010 world championships in Turkey and 2012 Olympics in London, CBSSports.com has confirmed.
The official announcement will come July 22, when Team USA opens a training camp in Las Vegas for players who did not participate in the 2008 Summer Games. Krzyzewski's decision was first reported by the Boston Globe and confirmed to CBSSports.com by a person close to the Duke coach.
Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball, had sought a two-year commitment for '10 and '12 from Coach K and existing members of the Olympic team. He declined to confirm Krzyzewski's decision, but said on the phone, "When you have something very positive in place, you do everything you can to try to keep it going. So there’s a lot of reasons to keep everyone in place, and hopefully it works out that way."
Posted on: February 13, 2009 7:39 pm
PHOENIX -- Amare Stoudemire was right about one thing Friday when he said, "It's going to be an interesting 10 days." He just had his dates wrong. The trade deadline is six days away, and by Thursday we'll know if Stoudemire is staying or going.
As of now, Stoudemire said he's handicapping it at 60-40.
"Sixty keeping me, and 40 not keeping me," Stoudemire said. "Teams are asking about me and wanting me, so that's a good thing."
Stoudemire attracted one of the biggest crowds at the All-Star media session Friday, and for good reason. His team is furiously trying to reshape itself yet again by trading either Stoudemire or Shaquille O'Neal by Thursday. Stoudemire said he's been told by management that the reasons are financial.
"From a financial standpoint, it'll help them afford certain players," Stoudemire said. "I'm not sure if they're giving up on the season or still trying to win a championship. Not sure."
Speculation also continues to swirl about the future of Suns coach Terry Porter, whose job status has been the subject of organizational discussion for several weeks. But someone who still has a lot of clout in the Suns organization, Jerry Colangelo, made it pretty clear Friday that he feels Porter shouldn't be the only person held accountable.
"When Steve Kerr selected Terry Porter, that was his guy," said Colangelo, speaking at the news conference announcing the 2009 Basketball Hall of Fame finalists. "He had the faith and confidence in him. It’s either worked out or hasn’t or it’s something that’s being questioned right now. Steve has to be responsive to that one way or the other. Terry’s a good guy. He’s worked hard at it. He inherited a team in transition. People have to be held accountable, and those making those decisions should consider all of that."
Colangelo, the architect of Team USA's gold-medal performance at the Summer Olympics in Beijing last summer, is an oddly positioned figure in these All-Star festivities. Having spent much of his professional life grooming the Suns into a class organization, he envisioned an All-Star weekend here that would celebrate not only the success of his city, but also the franchise. Instead, the Suns are in turmoil.
"That’s a hard thing to swallow after giving birth to the franchise and being so intimately involved in it after 40 years," Colangelo said. "There’s turmoil right now. There’s transition. There’s a lot of rumors and speculation regarding a coaching change and trades. For certain, because of the age of the players, there’s instability right now. A lot of things could happen in all of those areas. The only two people who can really comment and say something constructive about it are (managing partner) Robert Sarver and Steve Kerr. There’s a lot of stuff circulating and it appears there could be some things happening."