October 04, 2010
In a rare on-record version of Hoop Du Jour (not that I mind the nasty, anonymous quotes), the New York Post's Peter Vecsey asked former New Jersey Nets GM Rod Thorn if his resignation from the team last summer had anything to do with Nets CEO Brett Yormark.
"I don't deny my dislike for the guy," Thorn admitted last Friday when asked by phone about their contentious relationship. "But he's not the reason I left."
I'll take his word for it.
Still, when Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the majority share of the Nets and retained Yormark it appeared the Russian left Thorn no choice but to bail.
"No, that's not true," Thorn responded. "I'd decided to retire long before the sale. Personal things happened over the last two years that made me realize it was time to go."
Thorn playfully brushed off a request for specifics while conceding "had Yormark owned enough clout he positively would've brought back [John] Calipari to run the show."
On Sunday, Yormark (described as New Jersey's "chief leak" in Vecsey's column) got in on the back and forth. As quoted by the Bergen Record's Al Iannazzone:
"For the last couple of months I've been clearly focused on working with [general manager Billy King] and Avery on getting this franchise back to a best-in-class status," Yormark said Sunday evening. "Obviously there's a lot of work to be done after Rod's 12-70 season, both on and off the court."
Ouch. Not "Lawrence Frank's 12-70 season" or "Kiki Vandeweghe's 12-70 season," or "the really bad season that saw our record end up a lot worse than I think our team actually was." Nope. "Rod Thorn's 12-70 season."
And while Yormark still comes off worse, here (especially coupled with the rumors that tell us that he wanted to re-hire John Calipari as Nets coach), that was really Rod Thorn's 12-70 season.
The guy waited too long to deal Richard Jefferson(notes) or Vince Carter(notes) for anyone meaningful, he was truly awful at signing rotation parts (it wasn't that New Jersey had bad fringe players working for them over the last five years; they've had some of the worst active players in the league), and he made a mess of a team that really should have had a better chance at a big turnaround with all that cap space, a new owner, and the Brook Lopez(notes)/Devin Harris foundation.
The most telling aspect? New Jersey hired Billy King to run their team (if only symbolically) last summer, and Nets fans weren't all that mad. Never a good sign.
This isn't to say Rod's a bum or that he won't help the Philadelphia 76ers (his current employers), or that he didn't do great things with the Nets (like pouncing on Bryan Colangelo, in a moment of weakness, to turn Stephon Marbury(notes) into Jason Kidd(notes)), but there was a reason 12-70 happened last year. Rod Thorn - not clearing for eventual cap space or Devin Harris'(notes) listless play or Vandeweghe's coaching naiveté - had the most to do with it.