Former Nets President Rod Thorn was introduced yesterday as President of the Philadelphia 76ers stunning many around the league who didn’t realize Thorn would be so quick to take on a new job after mysteriously leaving the Nets last month.
Thorn continues to say there’s no ill will towards his old team and there are no nefarious reasons for his leaving:
“I was never retired,” Thorn said Thursday. “I just retired with the Nets.”
Still seems like something is up to me. And the timing of Thorn’s announcement couldn’t have been worse. So I wish him well, but not the best if that makes sense.
In other news, earlier this week, I ripped on SI’s Chris Mannix for giving the Nets a C- in his off-season report primarily because they weren’t doing enough to conserve cap space. My point was that after the signings of Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro and Anthony Morrow, the Nets still had a ton of financial flexibility while only barely passing the NBA mandated threshold for minimum team salary.
Totally expecting my opinion to enter the void of the interwebs, I was shocked to see a response from Mannix yesterday. For starters, I give total kudos to Chris for addressing my criticism publicly and not dismissing it as the rantings of some mouth breathing superfan. However, after reading his defense, I still think his argument has major holes:
My problem isn’t the money; it is the number of years over which the money is being paid. You want to give Petro $3.5 million per year? Fine. I mean, you have to wonder why the Nuggets, who were practically ready to hold open tryouts for a big man most of the summer, weren’t interested in re-signing him, but whatever. You want to hand Outlaw $7 million annually? The Blazers traded him and the Clippers weren’t in any rush to bring him back, but I’ll buy that too. And $4 million on average for Farmar? Sure, go ahead.
It’s the lengths of the contracts that are ridiculous. Five years for Outlaw. Three for Petro and Farmar. It’s true, none of these contracts put the Nets over the cap, and with newly acquired Troy Murphy and Kris Humphries coming off the books next season, New Jersey will likely have $20-plus million to spend.
But when you are rebuilding a team from the ground up, maintaining as much financial flexibility as possible is the key.
I get it, and in a vacuum, Mannix is right, but the problem is, in this bizarre off-season where guys like Drew Gooden and Darko Milicic were getting crazy deals, who were these players being signed for 1-2 year deals that would have also kept the Nets mildly competitive? The Nets could have went out and signed a bunch of D-Leaguers to 1-year deals and then they would have been dealing with the min. salary threshold again. They could have traded the last of their assets for a bunch of expiring contracts and then be faced with the same problem with rebuilding an entire roster next summer.
At the end of the day, after the Troy Murphy deal, the Nets are going to have more than enough money off the books to procure a game changing player via free agency next summer while also having 8 players from this year’s roster still under contract with experience playing together. The Nets missed out on their superstar, but have gone out and acquired a batch of young players who seem to tie-in to a specific system so they can grow together and be ready for the day that the Nets CAN acquire a superstar either via trade or free agency. I’m comfortable with this style of team building and I just don’t see how Mannix sees this as spending for spending sake. If he gave the Nets a C- and left it at the Nets whiffed on the big FAs and didn’t get the #1 pick, there’s no arguments for me. But by trying to add some depth to his reporting, I feel Mannix is still exposing his lack of insight about the Nets’ specific situation – which is understandable with many of these national writers who are paid to follow the Celtics, Lakers and Heat, not the Nets.