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Rod Thorn Retiring on July 15, Jerry Colangelo a Top Candidate to Replace Him

Rod Thorn, who took the Nets from oblivion to the NBA Finals and back again, will step down as President of Basketball Operations on July 15, according to multiple reports.

Al Iannazzone reports that Jerry Colangelo, the former owner of the Suns and president of USA Basketball, is the leading candidate to replace Thorn and will be offered a three-year contract worth $12-15 million by Mikhail Prokhorov. Jerry West's name has also been mentioned.

Most reports are that the decision to retire is Thorn's alone and that it has nothing to do with Prokhorov, who had offered Thorn a lucrative package to stay in the job--$8 million over two years, according to one Nets insider. Thorn's family has been pressuring him to step down.  He recently turned 69.

"They've given Rod everything he could want," a league executive said of the Russian ownership. "This is entirely his decision."

Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News has a different story. He reports that Thorn is either unhappy with the team's new hierarchy or with the contract he was offered.  Thorn's current contract, which expires Wednesday, pays him $5.5 million.

Team insiders said the negotiations between Thorn and Prokhorov have been ongoing for several months, with Thorn declining to commit to staying on despite Prokhorov's entreaties.  The two met most recently on Wednesday when Prokhorov stopped in East Rutherford on his way to Washington for the summit between President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. 

Dave D'Alessandro can't see Thorn, who will help hire his replacement, endorsing Colangelo, because Thorn wasn't happy how the managing director of USA Basketball answered questions about the Nets job when his name first came up around the All-Star break. In fact, according to D'Alessandro, Thorn chewed Colangelo out about it over the phone.

If Colangelo is not the replacement, there apparently are a lot of other candidates. D'Alessandro identifies Steve Kerr, Danny Ferry, Bobby Marks and Toronto's Maurizio Gherardini. In a report naming the Nets as one of the first teams to visit LeBron James on July 1, Adrian Wojnarowski adds currently employed GMs Sam Presti, Jeff Bower and R.C. Buford. Meanwhile, Marc Stein says that West will get a call.

Andrei Vatutin, the president of CSKA Moscow and a candidate for an assistant GM job, appears to be out of the picture.  He will head up a new Russian basketball league.