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Thorn Deconstructed

If Ed Stefanski is the resident optimist in the Nets' brain trust and Lawrence Frank is the realist, what does that make Rod Thorn? Wise old hand? After all he inarguably made the smartest draft pick in the past 25 years (Michael Jordan) and arguably made the most lop-sided trade in the past 25 years (your choice: Jason Kidd for Stephon Marbury or Vince Carter for trinkets and baubles). That qualifies him as someone whose opinion you should value.

--"As long as he's a top-flight player, I feel very confident that we'll be a good team." No introduction necessary. The bottom line every year since 2001. With Jason Kidd, they are one of only four teams who have been the playoffs the last six years. Without him, forget it.

--"How soon is (Nenad Krstic) going to be ready to go? I don't think he's 100 percent. The doctors think he has done great, that he's right on schedule, 90-to-95 percent. We will monitor him very closely during training camp. Our goal is to get him ready for the first game. Our training staff, coaches, everybody understands we need to bring him along gradually. Doctors are very happy with him. We're going to be very cautious, particularly in training camp and exhibition games." The most optimistic assessment thus far. THORN says expect him to be in the starting lineup. Okay, we're expecting. That's better than hoping, right?

--"Boston is definitely the team to beat in the Atlantic Division. I don't know about the conference, but in the Atlantic Division, they're the team to beat. They've added two big-time all-star players and one of them is a seven-footer. (Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen) are super-competitive guys who are out to prove something, When you add them with Pierce, who in my mind has always been a great player, that's a pretty good start. I don't know if any three guys can match up with those three." It is a pretty good start, but maybe in giving credit to Danny Ainge's game of All-Star pick-up, he forgot to pick up some pieces.

--"The guy averaged (25.2) points, six (rebounds), and almost five (assists). Statistically, there aren't many who can do what Vince did for us. He knows he didn't play well the last three or four games in the playoffs, but besides that, he had a heck of a year." Statistically. Is there a message in that word?. Is it all about statistics with VC? He knows it? Who told him?

--"We have some younger guys like Marcus (Williams) and (Josh) Boone that need to keep improving. They are going to get a shot to play. Antoine Wright had a great summer. He played really well all summer so he is going to get a chance." He's a bit worried. Summer's one thing. The NBA is another.

--"Athletically, (Sean William)'s the best athlete we have in our frontcourt, of our bigs. He's very inexperienced. How soon is it going to take him to get ready to play? There'll be an opportunity. But is he going to be ready to do it or how soon is he going to be ready? I can't answer that. The coaches tell me he's getting better all the time. The curve is up with him." Nothing new here, except Thorn has become the first Net not to call Williams "Raw". Thank God.

--"From our perspective (Allan Houston) is a guy who's obviously a tremendous character guy, great shooter. Will his legs hold up? I don't even know if he knows if they will or they won't. There is talk that that the Knicks have offered him guaranteed money. Miami didn't get (Charlie) Bell. Might their offer change? I don't know." What Thorn didn't say, Al Iannazzone reported: Houston worked out with, not for, the Nets on Monday and Tuesday. Why would he work out with the Nets if he has a firm offer from the Knicks? He doesn't.

--"Probably for the last three years we've been one of the two or three teams...people would say have a chance at the Eastern Conference. Now we're not considered that. There are probably five or six teams that people think would be rated ahead of us. Some of the teams that weren't so good in the past are now a lot better." Name them, go on, name them. You don't believe that. We know you don't!

--"I think if Richard (Jefferson) is healthy, he'll have a terrific year. He can do things he wasn't very good at last year, so that makes a big difference, Never have I told a player, 'We would not trade you.' . . . There's been rumors floating around about different players since (Richard has) been here. Richard is very savvy about things like that so I don't think there's a residual effect. If Richard is healthy, he'll have a terrific year for us." And if he doesnt have a terrific year at the beginning, expect those trade rumors to revive. Still, there is a lot of positive comments about Jefferson circulating in Netsland. Is he due for a bigger role in the offense?

--"That (Jamaal Magloire and Krstic) will be interesting. Defensively, how that will work out more so than offensively? Nenad can shoot out on the floor. But I don't know. I have to see. We got bigger heightwise and weightwise. Now it all depends on how well they play. I always like to have good, big players, but they have to be good." Translation: Jason Collins is my security blanket. I like him. Don't ever forget that.

--"Until someone beats Collins out, yeah. You know he's going to defend, he's going to be as smart as any player out there. He's not going to make mistakes, he's going to play hard every game. Who's going to do enough of those things to justify him not playing? You just can't give guys' spots away." See above. Finally, one of the Nets brain trust mentions a guy who has started 381 games in the last six years.