Rod Thorn, known as the GM who drafted Michael Jordan and the president of the New Jersey Nets since 2000, will be leaving the club when his contract expires on Wednesday. This leaves a vacancy at the position for Mikhail Prokhorov’s newly bought club and represents the first potential headache for the Russian owner.
ESPN was quick to report no hostility between the parties, and that “Thorn is not being forced out by the Nets’ new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and there is no tension between the two…”
The piece goes on to report that “there is no apparent successor within the organization and the uncertainty will undoubtedly hurt the Nets’ ability to recruit free agents.”
So let the speculation begin! Naturally, most
Brooklyn New Jersey fans will be turning their eyes eastward in the expectation that Prokhorov might be bringing over someone from Mother Russia, particularly one of the masterminds behind CSKA Moscow’s rise to Continental dominance in the mid-2000s.
We do know that Sergey Kushchenko, Prokhorov’s right-hand man for those CSKA teams and beneficiary of much basketball press since his former boss’ financial play, has quashed all rumors of his working for the Nyets: Apparently, he won’t be swayed from his commitment to national biathlon team. (Really.)
So what about current CSKA Moscow president Andrey Vatutin, another key member of Prokhorov’s Red Army team? BiE wonders about Vatution’s immediate future, but with the brouhaha going down in the Russian Superleague right now, you’d hardly expect Vatutin to jump ship.
Stateside, maybe Mark Warkentien would be worth a phone call from his new tovarisch in Jersey; Warkentien has drawn big names as the Denver Nuggets’ vice president of basketball operations and was said to be interested in the suddenly open front-office position in Portland.
Or maybe Kevin Pritchard? After all, he’s available…
Thorn leaves having put together two Eastern Conference champion teams and won the 2002 NBA Executive of the Year award. As for the 2010 NBA Draft, Thorn stated on Friday that he was pleased with the additions of Derrick Favors and Damion Jones to the Nets. He also stated that Prokhorov & Co. have $27 million to throw on the table during the free-agency period.