Rod Thorn Insists He's 'Not Retiring' After Leaving Nets
But Thorn, 69, insisted he's not too old to get another job after he leaves the Nets following a 10-year run.
"I'm not retiring,'' Thorn said in an interview Saturday night with FanHouse. "We'll see what transpires after (leaving the Nets) and what comes up. But I'm not retiring.''
Thorn said he still has interest in running a team, and could have interest if such a job came up for next season.
"I might have if something like that comes along,'' Thorn said.
There have been reports Thorn is leaving New Jersey because he didn't feel comfortable working with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and some of those employed by the Russian billionaire. But Thorn denied that is the case.
"I've been here a long time,'' he said. "I just felt it was time to go. This team needs new blood and I need a new a challenge if there's one challenge out there (for Thorn to pursue).''
Thorn, long one of the NBA's most respected executives and for 14 years the discipline czar in the NBA office before joining the Nets, was offered a two-year contract extension before deciding against returning. His contract expired June 30 but he elected to remain with the team for the start of the free-agency process.
The Nets, armed with $31.9 million in salary-cap room, went after LeBron James before he went to Miami and other top free agents. They weren't able to land any big-name players, with their work so far this offseason being signing forward Travis Outlaw, reaching terms on a deal with center Johan Petro, and Thorn said agreeing to sign Golden State forward Anthony Morrow to an offer sheet Monday.
"We tried to get involved with the top players but came up empty,'' Thorn said. "But we still have a lot of money. ... We were able to get in (with James and several other top free agents) and we got to tell our story. We had a chance but it turned out it didn't work out. But we were in the ballgame.''
Outlaw got a five-year, $35 million deal, Petro a three-year, $10 million contract, and Morrow will sign a three-year, $12 million offer sheet. If the Nets land Morrow, Thorn said they will have about $18 million of cap room left.
"Outlaw gives us a starting small forward, Johan gives us a backup center and Morrow would give us an outside shooter,'' Thorn said. "We still need another point guard and another big player.''
There's not a lot left in free agency at point guard, but sources say Nate Robinson is considering the Nets. For the big man, New Jersey is considering putting an offer sheet down on Houston restricted free-agent forward Luis Scola and are looking at Miami forward Udonis Haslem, who is unrestricted.
Anything done after next Friday will be somebody's call other than Thorn. But Thorn, who is working with Nets ownership to help find his replacement, said somebody could be in place by then, although he declined to name the top candidates.
Thorn's tenure didn't end well. Before failing to land a marquee free agent, the Nets last season went 12-70, threatening Philadelphia's 9-73 mark in 1972-73 for the worst in NBA history. Overall, though, it was a success.
Thorn was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2001-02, and led the Nets to Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. New Jersey made six playoff appearances in Thorn's 10 seasons and won four division titles after never having won one in 24 NBA years before Thorn's arrival.
"For the most part, it was great,'' Thorn said of his Nets tenure. "If you go to our arena and look up at the banners, almost all of them are from the last 10 years.''
Now, Thorn still has interest in helping hoist some banners for another team.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson.