The Circus in the Swamp


As if watching the Nets chase all-time infamy wasn’t bad enough for fans, those working in the front office appear to be emulating the comically inept and embarrassing play on the hardwood – to the point that the resignation of an interim assistant coach has seemingly exposed the complete and utter chaos that has swallowed this organization.

The recent and unexpected resignation of Del Harris as assistant coach has produced somewhat conflicting stories regarding the circumstances behind his departure. The Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro reported earlier this week that Harris’s agent asked team President Rod Thorn about Del becoming the next head coach, returning Kiki Vandeweghe to the GM spot, an idea which Thorn rejected. A Peter Vescey report from Tuesday, says that Kiki, Harris and Harris’ agent allegedly concocted a plan behind unbeknownst to Thorn where Harris was promised the head coaching spot later this season, moving Kiki back to GM, where he could hypothetically prove his worth before the house cleaning that is certain to commence when Mikhail Prokhorov takes over as owner.

This morning, Al Iannazzone reported that Thorn is now investigating the details from the Vescey report. If a side deal was made behind Thorn’s back, Kki could get the axe.

All of these stories contain elements that are both plausible and outrageous.  Regardless of who’s got the story right here, what ties all of these accounts together is the reported lack of cohesion in the front office.

Why is Kiki the coach when it’s clear he has no desire to do the job? What was Del Harris told when he was hired that made him so infuriated about being denied an opportunity to be the head coach that he would quit after only two months on the job? How does Rod Thorn apparently not know what his GM and assistant coach are discussing, and why is Thorn so adamant about keeping Kiki in a job he doesn’t want?

A phrase used by some in the media to describe the Nets front office is “every man for himself.” While I’m sure a lot of this has to do with the heavy financial losses of the franchise and the presence of a new boss – a Russian billionaire at that in Prokhorov – but this description is disturbing nevertheless. Coming into this season, fans were sold on the premise that this would be a rebuilding year, with a focus on developing the team’s younger players to help build an attractive core to attract free agents this coming summer. While this might come across as a bit naïve of me, I find it difficult to believe that Kiki and Thorn can focus on developing their players when they appear more preoccupied with backstabbing each other.

So, if I am to understand things correctly – and this is purely me riffing a bit here – Thorn supported Lawrence Frank, but Kiki didn’t. Kiki wanted to fire Frank, but Thorn wouldn’t let him unless Kiki fell on the sword and took a job he was ill-prepared for. Kiki accepted, but only if he could get Del Harris on board. Harris, in some fashion, thought he was in line for the head coaching job. Thorn never intended Harris to be anything more than assistant and could fire Kiki for making such a promise. Meanwhile, Prokhorov could take over after the all-star break and potentially fire them all. Is this the NBA, or an episode of Melrose Place?

And at the end of the day, the people who suffer most are the fans. The fans that are being asked to endure a losing season of epic proportions, and then a relocation to Newark followed by a relocation to Brooklyn.  For better or worse, I’ll remain a fan through all this, because that’s what I do. But watching the front office devolve into a three-ring circus makes this entire experience excruciating, and is destroying any credibility this cast of clowns had left.