Thorn looking for GM, power forward

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rod Thorn isn't cleaning out his office in his final week as the New Jersey Nets president and general manager.

The 69-year-old executive was hard at work Monday. He wants to find a new GM and sign a power forward, if a good one is out there at the right price.

Thorn also says he is not retiring and he's not bitter. So if someone has a front office NBA job or television gig, give him a call. He's interested.

Thorn insists new owner Mikhail Prokhorov did not force him out after a 10-year stint that included two trips to the NBA Finals and an enjoyable but disappointing last foray into a free agency market featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

"The real story is it's time," Thorn said Monday of his pending departure. "I got along great with Mr. Prokhorov and his people, no problem with any of them. I like his forecast for what he wants to do. It's just time. I have been thinking about it for a couple of years and I just think it's time. Sometimes you go along and your time just runs out. To me, I felt my time was up here."

Thorn was relaxed talking about his decade in New Jersey. His voice was cheerful and he laughed a lot, noting he feels great.

Where he goes from here, even he doesn't know.

"If someone is interested in talking to me about what I am doing now, I would be willing to talk or if it's in another capacity I would be certainly willing to do that, too," he said with the latter referring to television work.

Thorn knows nothing may pop up.

"Then it's retirement, I guess," he said.

Thorn doesn't sound like a man who is ready to walk away from the game to play golf or a little poker on weekends. He worked incredible hours for weeks getting the Nets ready to make their free agency pitch in late June and early July, while at the same time, hiring Avery Johnson to be the team's next coach.

And it just wasn't one pitch. The Nets met with James, Wade and Bosh on the opening day of free agency. He talked with agents for power forwards Carlos Boozer and David Lee while negotiating with others in what easily was the best free agency marketplace in years.

"You knew it was going to be hectic and it was," Thorn said. "To me it was a lot of fun because we got to tell our story to some of the top players. We felt we had some kind of chance. As it turned out, we did not get chosen. But those are the fun times, around the drafts and around when you are trying to sell whatever you are trying to sell to players. Those are the fun times as far as I am concerned."

Coming off a franchise worst 12-70 season, the Nets were shut out out in signing big-name free agents. They eventually reached agreements with small forward Travis Outlaw, backup center Johan Petro and point guard Jordan Farmar while extending an offer sheet to shooting guard Anthony Morrow.

"We increased our talent pool," Thorn said. "We are very young. All the players we are in the process of signing are very young players that have the ability to get better together."

The Nets also have the ability to offer a max contract to a power forward, but most of the good ones have signed.

"If you dropped a great player in to the pieces we have now, then you are going to have a pretty good team."

That's how Thorn started out with the Nets.

Coming from the NBA offices, he engineered the trade that brought Jason Kidd to New Jersey to play with Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. It instantly turned the Nets into a contender as they made the Finals in 2002 and 2003, losing to the Lakers and Spurs, respectively.

After Martin was dealt to Denver, Thorn replenished the talent pool by trading for Vince Carter. However, it wasn't enough to get New Jersey back to the Finals. Eventually, Thorn traded away his stars to clear cap space for this year's free agency. New Jersey had more than $30 million to spend, but they could not persuade the league's best to join them.

"It's been a great 10 years from my perspective," Thorn said. "Obviously our team was, starting in my second year, we were really good for the biggest part of it. The last couple of years we weren't very good. I'm leaving with nothing but fond memories of my time here and wish the Nets nothing but good luck."