A Thorn on Their Side

Once upon time, the Nets wasted draft picks on stiffs like Yinka Dare. Players with modest talent like Chris Morris had the gall to write down “trade me” on their sneakers. Players with additional talent but not nearly as much as they thought, like Stephon Marbury, wrote “All Alone” on their ankle tape. And throughout all this, fans and New York media alike responded with Derrick Coleman-like enthusiasm: whoop-de-damn doo.

Then once the 1999-00 season, Rod Thorn took over a Nets team that desperately needed somebody along with his professionalism and player evaluation skills. Rod Thorn’s 1st major move was to pick Kenyon Martin as the quantity one decide in the draft. While Martin suffered through an injury-plagued initial season, by his second season he was a serious defensive presence and a large half of their running offense.

In 1984, Rod Thorn made what was clearly his best draft pick while GM of the Bulls, selecting Michael Jordan. But, in 2001, after having one full season to evaluate the Nets’ needs, Rod Thorn had what would have to be thought-about the most effective off-season of his career. The Nets drafted Eddie Griffin and then turned around and dealt him for 3 picks that they turned into Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, and Brandon Armstrong.

Richard Jefferson was one in every of the Nets’ brightest stars. A great athlete who plays outstanding defense, Jefferson is also one among the league’s most effective scorers, getting 19.5 points on fewer than 13 shots a night. Jason Collins doesn’t wow you if you examine the stat sheet, however he does thus many very little things when he’s on the court, he is well revered by his teammates and thought-about a winner throughout the league. Brandon Armstrong, a reported sharp-shooter who can’t shoot, offered less of an impact.

But it was Thorn’s trade that off-season that really turned things around. Thorn traded talented but selfish potential superstar Stephon Marbury for an older Jason Kidd. Kidd instantly energized the franchise, guaranteeing a winning record the year he joined the franchise. Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles, and Keith Van Horn immediately improved their game and Jefferson and Collins’ NBA initiation couldn’t have gone smoother with Jason Kidd leading the charge. The reenergized franchise created it to the NBA Finals in both 2002 and 2003, ultimately losing to a lot of talented Western Conference foes (Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs).

Thorn made a few errors along the means in his quest to find a real center. He traded Keith Van Horn for a miscast Dikeme Mutombo, who never work in with the Nets running style, and then signed Alonzo Mourning to a terrible 4-year, twenty-million-greenback contract solely to see him miss most of the season due to his kidney ailment. However, the Nets look like they need finally found their center in Nenad Krstic whom they written in 2002 and stashed in Europe for a couple of years to develop his game. Krstic has become an offensive force for this Nets, averaging 13.five points per game on a higher than fifty% FG percentage.

Thorn also saved the Nets’ organization after they were at risk of sliding into the abyss. Faced with demands from ownership to chop prices, Thorn shipped off Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles, and Lucious Harris. Fans were outraged, but Denver is currently stuck with Martin’s bloated contract, and Kerry Kittles is semi-retired once taking part in solely 11 games last year. Thorn created the correct alternative in Richard Jefferson over Kenyon Martin, and then created another great move by stealing Vince Carter from Toronto for the unimaginable bargain price of Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, Alonzo Mourning (who refused to suit up for Toronto), and a few harmless draft picks.

The Nets start their series against the Miami Heat equipped with 3 superstars acquired by Thorn and a budding fourth in Krstic, also written by Thorn. While you’ll quibble with his bench selections that backfired this year (Mark Jackson and Jeff McInnis), the Nets are surely thrilled to have this Thorn on their side.

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