One of my favorite sayings about the Nets (and one I used a ton when trying to explain any Nets’ move) was “In Rod We Trust.” After July 15th, that saying is going to be pretty much useless because according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard writing for ESPN New York, Rod Thorn is stepping down:
Thorn, the Nets president since 2000, is under contract through June 30 but will remain for two weeks to help the club through the first two weeks of the free-agency period.
Thorn is not being forced out by new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and there is no tension between the two, according to sources.
“They’ve given Rod everything he could want,” a league executive said. “This is entirely his decision.”
Many people are going to remember Rod Thorn as the “Man who drafted Michael Jordan,” but what he did in New Jersey is going to always stick with me. Thorn did a great job of bringing in talent and also getting rid of talent at just about the right time. He somehow kept the team competitive, creatively bringing in big player after big player, retooling instead of rebuilding. And when he finally decided to rebuild, he swiftly made that decision and took a roster of older, big salary players and stripped the roster down to a young core, most of them still on their rookie contracts.
Despite the 12 win season last year, I think that Rod Thorn did a fantastic job of putting this team in a very good position to turn around quickly. Usually rebuilding takes 5-6 years (just look at teams like Indiana and Detroit) but Rod Thorn has put the Nets in a position to make the playoffs next year, even if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh don’t come to New Jersey.
Moving forward, the obvious choice for the new Nets GM has to be just fired Portland GM Kevin Pritchard. In case you don’t know who Pritchard is, he is the man who turned the Blazers around in short order and he wasn’t fired because he was doing a bad job (there was some ownership issues there). Prokhorov was willing to give Rod Thorn $8 million over two years, and in my opinion I don’t think he’d have any reservations about opening up his check book and writing down a hefty sum to sign Pritchard, one of the best GMs in the league…even if he’s unemployed.