Nets President and GM Rod Thorn Stepping Down

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rod Thorn
is stepping down as president and general manager of the New Jersey
Nets.

A person with knowledge of the
decision told The Associated Press on Saturday that the 69-year-old
Thorn will resign next month. The person spoke on condition of anonymity
because the team had not authorized public comment.

Thorn would not confirm the move
Saturday in a text message to the AP. It remains unclear whether he will
remain with the team in another capacity.

The person said possible candidates to
replace Thorn included Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti, New Orleans GM Jeff
Bower
and Nets vice president Bobby Marks.

Thorn is not being forced out by new
owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who wants him to stay on. The Russian
billionaire recently chose not to renew the contract of general manager
Kiki Vandeweghe. He then gave Thorn the dual job of president and
general manager, a new contract and the task of rebuilding a team that
won a franchise low 12 games last season.

Thorn has had the contract for two
weeks and not signed it.

When asked on Friday when he would
sign it and how long he would stay with the team, Thorn seemed to laugh.

"We'll see," he said cryptically.
"Thanks for asking."

ESPN The Magazine first reported
Friday that Thorn would step down July 15.

Thorn, who has been calling the shots
for the Nets since 2000, hired Avery Johnson as coach last week, ran
the draft on Thursday and is now preparing for the long-awaited free
agency period that begins July 1, when the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane
Wade
and Chris Bosh can test the market.

New Jersey doesn't have a great
supporting cast, but Thorn has positioned the team to make a run at star
players with $27 million in salary cap space.

Thorn helped turn the Nets into a
contender in 2001 when he engineered a trade to bring Jason Kidd to New
Jersey. The Nets went to the NBA Finals for two consecutive years, but
failed to win the title.

Before joining the Nets, Thorn was
the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations from
1986-2000.

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