With Rod Thorn scheduled to pack up on Friday, we decided to take a long look at all his moves over the past decade: the good (trades that brought the team the Big Three), the bad (Kenyon Martin) and the ugly (Jeff McInnis).
We grade them all, geeks that we are, based on their ultimate outcomes. It's been 10 years of "In Rod We Trust", the most productive decade in the team's NBA history but once that ultimately exhausted its author and pushed him out the door. What we don't grade is his hiring of coaches, which go from A to F (you figure it out) and refrain from doing too much "wudda, cudda, shudda", focusing on what actually transpired.
Take a look. It's fodder for a lot of discussions.
June 2000 - picked Kenyon Martin as overall No. 1 [A+] and Soumaila Samake with the 36th pick [F] The start of something good. Nets could have selected Stromile Swift (see way below) or Darius Miles. Nets went for height in the second round, passing on Michael Redd--in spite of lobbying by then scouting director Ed Stefanski, as well as Eduardo Najera and Eddie House.
July 2000 - signed Aaron Williams to MLE [A-] Great move that gave the Nets a reliable big man...gave him a chance to play.
July 2000 - re-signed Kendall Gill to one year, $7 million contract [F] Kendall went around Thorn to owner Lew Katz, saying he wanted to stay. Last time that happened.
August 2000 - signed Stephen Jackson [A-] From out of nowhere. Jackson was recommended by asst. coach Lawrence Frank. Reliable? No. Consistent? No. Did he play well when on? Yes.
June 2001 - traded Stephon Marbury, Soumale Samaki and Johnny Newman to Phoenix for Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley [A+]. Some think the Carter trade was the best trade Thorn ever made. We disagree. This was it...period. Changed the franchise.
June 2001 - traded Eddie Griffin draft rights to Houston for Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, Brandon Armstrong [A] and drafted Brian Scalabrine with the 35th pick [B+] Same day as the Kidd trade is agreed to with a handshake, Thorn struck again. Instant bench for the 2001-02 EC Finalists. Got rid of a kid with problems for two starters, one a topflight NBA player who ultimately becomes the franchise’s second highest scorer. Only downsides: Thorn considered taking Gilbert Arenas over Brandon Armstrong and Thorn reportedly resisted Caroll Dawson's request that the deal also include a swap of first-round picks in 2002. Who had the first pick overall in 2002? Houston. Who'd the Rockets pick? Yao Ming. Think of those possibilities!
July 2001 - did not offer contract to Stephen Jackson [F].It would have stunted RJ's growth and Stevie was--and is--a bit crazy, so crazy he lived with Marbury. But couldn't something have worked out?
July 2001 - released Chris Dudley [A] Cap filler in the Marbury trade. He has looked better in Oregon governor's race commercials than he did on the court. Yes, he running for governor in Oregon.
August 2001 - signed Todd McColluch to MLE [B+] Criticized at the time as too big a price for a big, slow center. Critics were wrong. Thorn was right.
August 2001 - signed Derrick Dial [D] Didn't work. No big whoop.
October 2001 - bought out the contract of Jim McIlvaine [A] Great move, showed the team's seriousness. Jim now a member of the Marquette University band...really.
November 2001 - signed Anthony Johnson as Kidd back up [A] Rescued from the "D" League on Eddie Jordan's recommendation. A great pick-up.
June 2002 - drafted Nenad Krstic [A] with the 24th pick and Tamar Slay with the 54th pick [F] Can you say "steal of the draft"? He was back then. Took a while to get here, but seemed well worth it until he got hurt. Slay never panned out.
August 2002 - traded Keith Van Horn and Todd McColluch to Philadelphia for Dikembe Mutombo [D-] Looked good on paper, Thorn later admitted, meaning not on the court. Saddled the Nets with an aging role player who if he hadn't been bought out would have been the league's third highest paid player in 2004-05. Crazy. Big Todd and Nets later got into an arbitration case that cost them millions more. Only saving grace is that it freed up cap space in 2005-06, clearing more than $20 million...or more than was needed to pay Jefferson and Collins.
August 2002 - signed Chris Childs [F] Big mistake. Childs lied about his training, showed up fat, thinking he was playing for the old Nets, who wouldn't have cared. Buh-bye. Thorn used it to warn his players to not "f**k with him", according to reports.
August 2002 - signed Rodney Rogers [C-] Disappointing. Was supposed to fill in the gap left behind the arc with KVH's departure. Was on the downside.
September 2002 - re-signed Anthony Johnson [B+] after cutting Childs [C] Nice recovery, a Thorn speciality.
April 2003 - finally released Jamie Feick more than two years after his last game [C+] Pretty much a neutral move, getting him off the roster. He had declined to take a physical needed to get the Nets a disabled player exception. Insurance paid most of his $15 million contract signed by Thorn's predecessor, John Nash.
June 2003 - drafted Zoran Planinic [D] with the 22nd pick, sold draft pick of Kyle Korver for $150,000 [F] Thorn's worst draft...at the time…only saving grace comes in Planinic's second year when he makes Krstic feel at home, for which the Nets were very grateful. 'Nuff said.
July 2003 - declined to pick up option on Anthony Johnson [F] Byron Scott blows it. Johnson was happy, was cheap, was good.
July 2003 - re-signed Jason Kidd to six year, $100 million contract [A] The question, now answered, was how soon before age caught up with him? Didn't happen with the Nets. Might be happening now, might not.
July 2003 - signed Alonzo Mourning to four year, $22 million contract [F] Thorn’s worst free agent signing, $22 million for a player who could literally have died on the court.
October 2003 - bought out Dikembe Mutombo for around $30 million. [F+] The biggest buyout in NBA history…to this day. You pay for your mistakes. Saved some cap space, but not much. Final verdict on a flawed trade.
December 2004 - Signed Mikki Moore to two 10-day contracts to fill in for injuries, then released him to make way for Eddie Griffin. [C+] At least, it gave the Nets a chance to audition Mikki for a role two years later.
January 2004 - signed Eddie Griffin to vets' minimum contract, then was forced to release him after he is jailed [F] Thorn took a chance on a risky kid, who disappointed him and the franchise. An embarrassment who never played a single game. Tragically, he later commits suicide.
--March 2004 - Bruce Ratner buys tthe Nets--
June 2004 - sold first round draft pick to Portland for $3 million [F], drafted Christian Drejer with the 51st pick [F] The beginning of the Ratner cost-cutting. Kevin Martin, Ben Udrih, Anderson Varejao were all available. Drejer never donned a Nets uniform--except in the 2005 summer league where he embarrassed himself. In 2008, he had to retire from the Italian league with foot problems that had developed before the Nets picked him. Still, no one picked after him is in the league either. An awful day.
July 2004 - traded Kenyon Martin to Denver for three draft choices and $5 million trade exception [B] A grade that started out as an F, it has risen slowly over the past two years to an A now back down to a B, due to hard work by Thorn as well as Martin's injuries and increasing craziness. Kmart missed more games in the next six years than any other NBA player, more than 160, two full seasons worth Thorn didn't think he was worth the max, particularly with signing and trade bonuses. He was right. Turned down Nuggets offer of Nikoloz Tskitishvili, which would have reduced the value of the TE. This trade becomes the foundation for the Vince Carter trade five months later. The final piece of that trade, the Clipper pick, became Marcus Williams. The pick itself wasn't a lottery pick, but the talent seemed to be…at the time. Problem is the Nets have never replaced KMart.
July 2004 - traded Kerry Kittles and $1.5 million to LA Clippers for Clippers second round draft choice and $10.2 million trade exception [A] Fans furious, but no one knew KK had just had his fifth knee surgery. He played 11 games in 2004-05 and then retired. The pick is the last Thorn acquires that off-season. In total, he winds up with 10 over the three years. The trade exception and this pick became Cliff Robinson.
August 2004 - signed Rodney Buford [D] and Jacque Vaughn [B+] Buford was one of the NBA's worst players. Vaughn keeps filling in off the bench. He's not AJ, but he could defend.
August 2004 - signed Ron Mercer to LLE [F] Hurt, he contributed nothing. Even if he wasn't injured, could he have done anything worthwhile? Lost the use of the LLE for 2005 off-season.
August 2004 - signed Nenad Krstic to rookie contract [A+] Finally!!! Because he was taken at No. 24 in 2002, Krstic's contract amounts to peanuts, considering his talent. Nets also paid $300,000 towards his buyout. Krstic borrowed the rest from Vlade Divac.
August 2004 - signed Kyle Davis to non guaranteed contract [F] A lot of hype as a shot-blocker...designed to take the sting off KMart loss. Nothing else. Disappeared.
August 2004 - dropped Lucious Harris [A] Saved some money. He did nothing when signed by the Cavs. Bad back. It was time.
August 2004 - signed Eric Williams to three-year, $11.55 million partial MLE contract [D] He filled in nicely on defense, but offensively limited. Helped make the VC trade later that year. If that contract had still on the books by 2006-07, ugh.
September 2004 - re-signed Richard Jefferson to a six-year, $78 million contract [B] With KMart gone, Richard gets his money. Smart move to get it done before RJ became restricted free agent...but ultimately many suggested the Nets overpaid. By the time he is traded in 2008, the Nets’ brass are among those who think he is overpaid.
September 2004 - signed Jabari Smith [D] and Travis Best [C] to partially guaranteed contracts. They did little, but didn't hurt the team. Smith was team jokester.
October 2004 - re-signed Jason Collins to a four-year, $24 million contract [C-] Much-abused defensive expert. Knee issues made the contract look like an albatross two years later. Ultimately, he became trade bait. Still, he started more than 400 games and did some memorable defensive jobs on Yao and Shaq…not to mention how he embarrassed Chris Bosh in the 2007 playoffs.
December 2004 - signed and later released Kaniel Dickens [D] Never mind.
December 2004 - traded Eric Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams and two draft picks obtained in the Martin trade for Vince Carter [A+] Acquired one of the game's most popular--if then tarnished--stars for trinkets and baubles and the right to buy out Mourning's contract! Trading away the big men opened up opportunities for Krstic as well. Some have described it as the most lopsided trade in a decade. We disagree. The most-lopsided trade was for Kidd.
December 2004 - signed and later released Jerome Moiso [F] Well, the Raptors wanted the Nets to take him in the Carter trade. Thorn declined, then picked him up off waivers before dumping him. Overpaid underachiever…and French.
January 2005 - signed Billy Thomas [D] and Donnell Harvey who was quickly released [D] Gave Billy a chance. He hit a couple of big threes but later admitted he was a bad locker room influence.
January 2005 - used $4.4 million of the Martin trade exception to sign Elden Campbell off waivers, then released him [F] What was this about? An attempt to get Detroit to deal Darko? The only excuse for a bad deal that wasted a TE.
February 2005 - used $5.2 million of the Kittles trade exception along with two second round draft choices--Clippers' 2005 and Nets' 2007--to acquire Cliff Robinson [A] A genius move. Warriors thought Cliffy was done, with a bad back. Chris Mullin originally wanted the Nets' first rounder in 2006. Thorn refused. Mullin relented. Cliffy's "Bird rights" permit the Nets to resign him outside the cap. Draft choices turned out to be Chris Taft and Stephan Lasme, both out of the league by 2007.
June 2005 - picked up team option on Jacque Vaughn at $1 million [B+] Can't complain.
June 2005 - declined to pick up team option on Cliff Robinson at $5.87 million [A] Cliffy a great pickup but he ain't worth $6 million. He knew it. Thorn knew it.
June 2005 - drafted Antoine Wright with the 15th pick [D] and Mile Ilic with the 43rd pick [F-] Considering where he was picked, Wright became a disappointment. He can defend, but he was supposed to be a shooter. A lot of players taken after him would have been a better fit, and everyone now knows it. Among them Danny Granger, Hakim Warrick, etc. Ilic in spite of a lot of hype from Thorn and Stefanski was a major bust. The Nets later admitted they desperately tried to trade up in the second round so they could get Monta Ellis. They should have tried harder. But even among those taken after Ilic were some real gems: Louis Williams, Andray Blatche, Ryan Gomes, Amir Johnson.
July 2005 - used the remaining $5 million from the Kittles trade exception along with the Nets' 2006 first round draft pick to acquire Shareef Abdur-Rahim from Portland [A+] It looked sooo good, sooo smart. Oh well.
July 2005 - re-signed Cliff Robinson to a two-year, $4.5 million contract with second year team option [A] That's more like it...and the contract had a team option.
July 2005 - signed Jeff McInnis to a two-year, $7 million contract [F] Right up there with some of Thorn's worst free agent signings...and there have been a few beauts. He became the forgotten man, as in, "I wish we could forget we signed him".
August 2005 - rescinded the Shareef Abdur-Rahim trade [A+] Whew! Was he worth $38 million, even without knee problems down the road? No...and yes, he had to retire in 2008 because of problems with that same knee. Moreover, the Nets retained their pick, which turned into Josh Boone.
August 2005 - traded the right to exchange second-round draft choices and the remaining $5 million from the Kittles trade exception to Philadephia for Marc Jackson and $3 million in cash [C] No risk. Getting a big body and the money to pay him wasn't such a bad thing...and it was all done quickly. He disappoints, but didn't cost a thing. Became trade fodder. Still, you would have hoped there was a better option.
August 2005 - released Ron Mercer under the NBA amnesty clause [A] Thanks for nothing.
August 2005 - agreed to sign Robert 'Tractor" Traylor but then had to reneg because of physical issues. [A] By giving Traylor an echocardiogram, something not all sports teams do, the Nets saved his life. It showed an enlarged aorta and by November, he had undergone corrective surgery. Traylor later said, through his agent, he wanted to play in 2008-09 and hoped the Nets were interested. Luckily, the Nets passed. He later pleaded guilty to helping the leader of a violent drug gang launder drug profits. Yikes.
September 2005 - signed Linton Johnson III to a vets’ minimum contract [F] Whose fault is it that he didn't get time? Would it have mattered? Since he's out of the league, we guess not.
September 2005 - signed Lamond Murray to a vets minimum contract [D-] He didn't understand his role, was adequate off the bench at PF at times. Another Kidd pal. Out of the league.
September 2005 - signed Scott Padgett to a two-year $3.3 million contract with second year team option. [F] Looked good for a while. As Tim Capstraw once said, he didn't need a shooting coach...he needed Dr. Phil! Out of the league, works for John Calipari as an assistant coach at Kentucky.
November 2005 - waived Ben Handlogten [F] Big Ben, we hardly knew ye. Really, though, who cared other than Ben?
February 2006 - traded Marc Jackson, Linton Johnson III and $100,000 to the Hornets for Bostjan Nachbar and two trade exceptions worth $2.05 million and $719,000. [B+] lt was all predicated on the need to clear space for free agent signing of Tim Thomas. Jon Paxton screwed that one up. Nachbar proved to be better than expected in 2006-07, filling in admirably for RJ. Considering that the acquisition of Jackson cost them nothing and Johnson was a vets' minimum signing, and both are out of the league, a great deal. And a LOT better than the alternative discussed that morning: Jackson and Nets' first rounder to the Bobcats for cap space and Lonny Baxter. If that deal had done through, again no Boone.
April 2006 - signed John Thomas and Derrick Zimmerman to end-of-the-season insurance deals [C] They didn't play poorly and it was nice having John Thomas around when Cliffy was suspended for drugs.
June 2006 - drafted Marcus Williams, PG, [D] and Josh Boone, PF, in the first round [C] and Hassan Adams, SG, in the second round. [D] At first, it looked like it's better to be lucky than good. Williams keep falling and falling in the draft and unlike other GM's, Thorn and Stefanski were there to catch him. Lots of self-congratulation that night. He had a phenomenal preseason and a decent rookie season--making the all-Rookie Team, but injury held him back in 2007-08. A history of poor conditioning, bad attitude and no defense led to his demise and ultimate trade. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Nets passed on Jordan Farmar, Kyle Lowry, Sergio Rodriguez. Boone hurt his shoulder in preseason, slowing his progress, but he eventually worked his way into the rotation, about all one can expect for a 23rd pick on a contending team. Then, after playing well his second year, fell back his third to a point where he became an after-thought. All those guys taken after Williams were also taken after Boone. Adams looked good in stretches, certainly better than someone taken at #54 should, then was confined to Frank's dog house and waived. That same night, the Nets passed on a big trade. The Bulls were offering Luol Deng and one of their first round picks for Richard Jefferson. The Nets wanted the #2 pick. The Bulls were offering the #16. No deal.
June 2006 - Declined team option on Scott Padgett, saving the team $1.2 million...his remaining contract year minus a $450,000 buyout. [D] Having the buyout in the original contract wasn’t a good idea and since Padgett didn't want to stay and Nachbar seems to provide the same services, no apparent harm. But considering the market for Padgett, why give him a $450,000 buyout clause in the first place.
July 2006 - Let Jacque Vaughn sign with the Spurs. [F] Vaughn sees Williams pick and realizes he will get less time. Up and down year didn't help him, but still a steadying influence, a great teammate. Missed in defensive matchups.
July 2006 - Declined team option on Cliff Robinson, then agreed to sign him to a new deal worth $1.3 million less. To help everyone save face, the team included a team option for a second year. [F] He was close to done and then he had knee surgery. It was a bad move to resign him after the drug suspension, and a worse move to give him a $500,000 buyout clause. That money stayed on the cap for 2007-08, limiting roster moves.
July 2006 - Traded a second round pick in 2009 to the Sonics for Mikki Moore. Since Moore is a vets’ minimum player, Nets did not have to match salaries. [A+] Acquired as insurance for Josh Boone's injured shoulder, Moore becomes a key player after Nenad Krstic gets hurt...helped save the season. Shockingly, he led the NBA in shooting percentage. Moore's $1.07 million salary turned out to be a bargain. Who knew? Acquired at Stefanski's suggestion. The 2009 pick becomes Derrick Brown of Xavier.
August 2006 - Signed combo guard Eddie House to one year, $1.4 million contract. [B] Considering his shooting ability and small contract, a great pickup at a bargain price. A gunner who can play some point, once he gets hot, it’s bombs away. Nets were looking to run more and House helped that plan a lot. Defense as questionable as his conscience. Then, a series of injuries limited his effectiveness. A year later, he signed with the Celtics and now wears a ring.
August 2006 - Bought out Zoran Planinic for $150,000, permitting him to join Tau Ceramica in Spain and open a roster spot for Mile Ilic. [C-] Giving up on a draft choice is never easy, particularly one so highly thought of. But the Planinic experiment was a failed one. Like Vaughn, with the drafting of Marcus Williams, Planinic saw the hand-writing on the wall and asked for permission to seek new opportunities overseas. Saved the Nets $1.5 million they had guaranteed him.
August 2006 - Agreed to European buyout and signed Mile Ilic, their 2005 draft choice, to a multi-year contract starting at $800,000. [F] It was all about potential. Ilic’s nickname on his Serbian team was "Yao Mile" because his height and skillset are reminiscent of a poor man’s Yao Ming. He isn't even close to Yao or Krstic. Net brass had called him "lottery caliber" and "intriguing". Wrong, wrong, wrong.
August 2006 - Invited Jay Williams to training camp, essentially giving him a non-guaranteed contract and a chance to show what he has to the Nets brass as well as other NBA teams. [C] It didn't work out, but it got the team some positive publicity and it didn't cost them much. It was another case of low risk, potentially high reward, the signature of the off-season, starting with Marcus Williams and including the draft of Hassan Adams, the signing of Mile Ilic and Eddie House.
January 2007 - Traded Jeff McInnis to the Charlotte Bobcats for Bernard Robinson, finally putting an end to the McInnis fiasco [D] Hard to give anything better than a D for this one, considering how bad the original signing was. In addition to his poor play, there were rumors of him recruiting others to his late night partying rounds, etc., etc. Addition by subtraction. Robinson did nothing. The team never used the trade exception of $2.6 million from this deal since it would have put them over the luxury tax threshold.
March 2007 - Talked trade with the Lakers about Jason Kidd. How close did it get? Depends on who you talk to...and when. Did they talk? Yes. Did the Nets ask for Andrew Bynum? Yes. Did the deal get close? Not that close. Trading Kidd would have changed the franchise. Rebuilding would have been in full swing around Jerseyan Bynum. But whether it was "unfortunate" (Kidd's words) or "really not that close" (Thorn's), the deal didn't go down and so doesn't get a grade.
June 2007 - Drafted Sean Williams at #17 in the draft, a risk vs. reward situation. [D- and we’re being kind] Word was that without his drug problems at BC, Williams would have been a top 10 pick based solely on his uncanny athleticism. Maybe. The Nets had considered Jason Smith of Colorado State, but Williams had outplayed Smith during a multi-team workout in Charlotte the week before the draft. By Game 25, he was starting and looking a lot less raw than predicted, showing he is better offensively and smarter than even the Nets brass could have hoped for. Then, Kidd was traded and he was exposed. It gets worse. He asks the Nets not to exercise their option on him, is sentenced to the end of the bench, tears out his locker, gets banished to D-League where he embarrasses the franchise. Then, on his return, he is arrested at Boston College for violating a restraining order, then a few weeks later in Lone Tree, Co, for threatening a cell phone store clerk by throwing a computer monitor across the room. The same night they draft Williams, the Nets and Pacers were involved in another RJ trade scenario, this one involving Jermaine O'Neal. Depending on who you believe, the deal fell through because the Nets were unwilling to give up a) Nenad Krstic or b) Marcus Williams
July 2007 - Signed Vince Carter to a new 5-year, $81 million contract, $66 million of which is guaranteed. [B] Vince Carter may be a future Hall of Famer...or not. Few players in the NBA are capable of playing four positions like he is and fewer players can average 25, 6 and 4 as he did in 2006-07 or even 21, 5 and 5, as he is in 2007-08 and did again in 2008-09. He can sell tickets. He is one of the game's good guys. BUT he can still drive fans, coaches and teammates crazy too. (You know the story.) The main question is what would this hyper athletic superstar be like at age 33 through 35, when the Nets are paying him stratospheric salaries? Could be a B+, but probably not. As part of his deal, he renounced a $16.4 million salary in 2007-08 in return for $13 million...and the long term guarantee, which helps the team's cap situation this season but hurts it long term, assuming a decline.
July 2007 - Signed Jamaal Magloire to a one-year, $4 million contract. [F] Magloire had received interest from the Lakers, Sixers, Wizards and Jazz, but chose the Nets. A former All-Star, the Nets hoped his toughness, rebounding and shot-blocking would be worth what was a minimal investment. Of course, he never showed any of that. Only Sacramento used more of their MLE in the 2007 off-season than the Nets did on Magloire.
July 2007 - Declined team option on Cliff Robinson, but still has to pay him $500,000 buyout fee. [F] Not a smart deal in retrospect. Cliffy retires.
July 2007 - Declined team option on Hassan Adams. [B] Nothing personal, just business, everyone told the press, but fans go nuts. It's way to reduce luxury t ax exposure. The team dropped below the threshold as a result. Still, Adams has a difficult time hooking up with another team in training camp, winning a last-minute invite from Cleveland after Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic stay home in contract protests. Ultimately, he got cut and wound up on a poor team in Italy's Due --or second-- league. Signed by Toronto in the summer, he is dropped in the fall. No big loss.
August 2007 - Signed Robert Hite to a partially guaranteed contract. [F] Hite looked more like an NBA two guard than Adams in the summer league and he only cost the team $25,000. But like most partial guarantees, it was wasted money the team had to carry on its cap this season. When Marcus Williams went down with a broken foot, Hite's fate was sealed. The Nets needed to find a third string PG desperately. He gets waived by the Nets the day after Adams is waived by the Cavs.
August 2007 - Let Mikki Moore sign a partially guaranteed $15 million deal with Sacramento. [B] He isn't worth it, just as Brian Scalabrine wasn't worth the same amount the year before. Offered him $10.3 million over three but gave him a half-hour to make his decision. It's a business. The great irony? Kings needed him because Abdur-Rahim's knee is done.
September 2007 - Signed Malik Allen to a non-guaranteed make-good contract. [C-] Nets didn't take any risks by signing this New Jersey native (Willingboro) but he provided few rewards. Signed as an insurance policy after Krstic's recovery had been slowed by a knee sprain, the Nets had hoped for a second Mikki Moore...he wasn't. Terrible ball-handler. Have a nice time to Dallas...then Milwaukee, then Denver.
October 2007 - Signed Darrell Armstrong to a partially guaranteed deal. [C-] Superannuated in basketball terms, but someone who has been around, learned the ropes and is willing to share the lessons. Armstrong has Finals experience, having made to the 2006 championship round with Dallas. Was hurt, turned into a towel-waver.
October 2007 - Declined fourth year option on Antoine Wright [B] The Nets said they want financial flexibility, but what is unspoken was that the Nets didn't think Wright will be worth $2.57 million in 2008-09. An admission of failure. Ultimately a smart move because he became an expiring contract to be used in the Kidd trade..
October 2007 - Traded Mile Ilic and Bernard Robinson along with cash considerations to the Hornets in return for David Wesley [D] Another admission of failure. Avoided throwing good money after bad--a Thorn specialty, it made sense from a number of perspectives. Wesley had announced his retirement and was only due a $250,000 buyout of his $1.75 million contract. Ilic and Robinson were deadweight. So the trade freed up two roster spots and put the team under the luxury tax threshold.
February 2008 - Traded Jason Collins along with cash considerations to Memphis for Stromile Swift. [D-] Collins had real value to the Nets because of his defense and familiarity with the Nets' schemes. He was also one of the last members of the two Finals teams. Swift has neither the BBIQ nor playoff experience that Twin has...and had just had his worst year as a pro. The loss of Collins becomes more obvious as no one provided any toughness underneath in the closing weeks of the playoff hunt. Swift, unlike Collins, had a player option last June but he didn't exercise it. Irony is that Memphis was able to use his expiring contract in the O.J. Mayo-Kevin Love deal, but the Nets never found a way to use Swift’s. First deal since Kiki Vandeweghe arrived.
February 2008 - Traded Jason Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen to Dallas for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn, unprotected first round picks in 2008 (Ryan Anderson) and 2010 (Damion James), $3 million in cash and a trade exception worth $3.3 million (Keyon Dooling). [A] You lose a future Hall of Famer and face of the franchise plus two pieces of your rotation and get back three young players, one of whom becomes an All-Star, plus a solid defender, an expiring contract, two draft picks, a $3.3 million trade exception and $3 million in cold, hard Mark Cuban cash. Kidd wanted to leave, demanded it in fact and had become a distraction or worse. Considering what other teams got for their unhappy stars (see Memphis and Chicago), this is a solid start whether it's a retooling or a rebuilding. Thorn has had an uncanny ability to know when a player has peaked and get the most for him. One added benefit of the trade was the Nets' demand that the deal be structured to include that $3.3 million trade exception, which ultimately became Keyon Dooling.
June 2008 - Traded Richard Jefferson to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. [D] As risky a trade as the Nets have made in the Thorn era. Jefferson was the Nets' leading scorer and one of the team's most popular players. Trading for a 20-year-old player whose rookie season was a disappointment and an injury-prone 28-year-old with an ugly contract is how it looked at first glance. While most pundits have said it was the salary dump that drove the trade, Vandeweghe truly believes he has a diamond in the rough in Yi. And it doesn't hurt that the addition of Yi has made the Nets one of the most popular teams in a country that has 300 million people playing hoops. Most Nets games are now televised nationally in China, compared to none in the US.
June 2008 - The Nets drafted Brook Lopez with the 10th pick [A+], Ryan Anderson with the 21st pick [A-] and Chris Douglas-Roberts with the 40th pick. [C] Lopez had been projected as high as #3, but some poor grades in individual workouts at the Pre-Draft camp hurt him...as did other teams' desire to go small in the draft. Big mistake by them. By mid-season, everyone is wondering "What were they thinking? Passing on a 7-footer with his skill set. Every month, he progresses. By January, he is Rookie of the Month, then improves in February. Anderson was supposed to be a reach at #21, but he plays well, if not as well as Lopez. Filled in for Yi when he goes down and has some good games. He and Lopez become the two youngest Nets starters in the past 30 years. As for CDR, he becomes a problem child, discovers Twitter and the rest is history. The draft news was overwhelmed that night by the RJ/Yi trade, but since then, people understand the draft was important to the Nets’ future.
July 2008 – Nets pass on getting into a bidding war for DeSagana Diop [C]. The Mavs try to make amends for losing Diop in the Kidd trade and go after him in a big way, signing the seven-footer to a five-year, $31 million offer. No way he’s worth that…to anyone. The Nets tried to get the Mavs to discuss a sign-and-trade. No go. Nets lose Diop, a piece they insisted on in February, for nothing. He was overpaid, but losing a seven-footer for nothing?
July 2008 - Nets sign Eduardo Najera to a three-year, $12 million deal [F] and Jarvis Hayes to a one-year LLE deal with second year team option [B-] The Najera signing was based as much on character as it was talent. The 32-year-old is a "glue guy", a leader in the locker room, $12 million seems to be a high price to pay. Then, he got hurt and got hurt and got hurt again. He underwent hernia surgery. Hayes is only 26 at the time of the trade and has slowly but surely recovered from a tough set of knee injuries. There is little risk to his signing to a $1.9 million deal.
July 2008 - Nets sign Chris Douglas-Roberts to a three-year, $2.03 million deal [C]. Because CDR was a second rounder, the Nets didn't even have to guarantee him anything. Instead, they signed him for three years, with the third year a team option. CDR will receive the vets' minimum in each of the three years: $442,114 in year one, $736,420 in year two and then $854,389 in the third as a team option. The first year comes out of the MLE.
July 2008 - Nets trade a undisclosed amount of cash and the $3.3 million trade exception carved out of the Kidd deal to the Magic for Keyon Dooling [A]. A brilliant piece of cap management, the TE permitted the Nets to sign Dooling after they had spent most of their MLE on Najera and Dooling had rejected an LLE offer from the Magic. Another glue guy who like Najera can play some defense. Dooling's three-year, $11.3 million contract has a team option after two years, permitting the Nets to buy him out and reduce salary for the possible signing of 2010 free agents.
July 2008 – Nets declined to offer Boki Nachbar a third year in salary negotiations and he signs with Dinamo Moscow. [B-] We didn’t much like this at the time, but then we understand the Nets don’t want anything to interfere with their business plan—reduce salary by 2010. Hayes fills in for Boki does admirably at a fraction of the cost. Plays better defense too. Still, we liked Boki. Through a quirk in the collective bargaining agreement, the Nets hold Boki’s "Bird Rights", meaning he can work a sign-and-trade for him if another NBA team wants to sign him without using their exceptions. Not likely.
July 2008 – Nets trade Marcus Williams to Golden State for a heavily protected first round pick in 2011. [B+] The pick may not get used til 2013 and could turn into two second round picks in 2013 and 2015. Rod Thorn remains upset to this day that Williams never developed in spite of his "terrific talent". But Lawrence Frank wanted rid of him, sees him as a sullen, negative player. The pick, it turns out has trade value…the Blazers wanted it at the deadline in a Carter deal. Williams gets shoved deeper into Don Nelson’s doghouse than he ever did with Frank. By February, he hadn’t even scored 10 points for the Warriors, then in April gets cut.
July 2008 - Nets announce their intention to retain the qualifying rights to Nenad Krstic [B]. The decision came after the Nets and Krstic couldn't agree on a contract and Krstic's agent couldn't find someone to take him. The severe injury he suffered in December 2006 now threatened his career. Ultimately, he decided to join Moscow Triumph in the Russian League, permitting him to rehab his knee. As long as the Nets continue to proffer him a contract every summer, they will retain his NBA rights and Krstic will be a restricted free agent. By doing so, the Nets ensure that if another NBA teams wants to sign him, they will have the right to match the other team's offer. With that leverage, the Nets could in theory work out a sign-and-trade. Lopez and Anderson's progress makes one wonder what use the Nets will have for him anyway.
January 2009 – Nets decline to match the Thunder’s three-year $11.5 million offer sheet for Nenad Krstic [C]. We perfectly understand the Nets’ situation—that there is no room for Krstic in the Nets future. Even though he is only 25, Lopez is 20, Anderson is 20, Yi is 21. He would have liked to return to New Jersey. But like Diop, the Nets lose a seven-footer for nothing. Shouldn’t happen twice in a six month period.
April 2009 – Nets waive Stromile Swift so he can play elsewhere, which turns out to be Phoenix [D] Meaningless move. Swift suffered first with injuries, then with the death of his mother. A change of scenery was necessary.
June 2009 – Nets trade Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson and a $1.26 million trade exception to the Magic for Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and two trade exceptions worth $3.73 million and $1.22 million. [C] Was it a pure salary dump or a shrewd trade of a heavy contract for a solid young player? Take your choice. Carter was owed $37.64 million--$33.64 million in salary the next two years and a $4 million contract buyout in 2011-12. The Nets had been marketing VC for months, wanting to get rid of his contract, in part to clear cap space, but also to clear long term salary commitments as they prepared for a sale. Multiple attempts to move him failed til the Magic, realizing that Hedo Turkoglu was a goner, came knocking. Their initial offer of Alston, Battie and J.J. Redick was rejected. The Nets wanted Lee. The Magic countered with a demand for Anderson. Done deal. There’s no doubt the Nets wanted Lee, but there was also another benefit in the way the deal was structured: if the Nets had taken Redick and kept Anderson, the team’s payroll would have been $2.9 million higher. Overall, this appears to be the best the Nets could do, but it caused a wave of fan anger.
June 2009 – The Nets draft Terrence Williams, a 6’6" guard/forward/you name it, out of Louisville with the 11th pick in the draft. [A-] This kid is at best, a very special player or at worst, another member of the Williams clan...not good. There are those who thought he was in draft’s top five based on talent alone. This could be as smart a pick as Lopez…if he gets his head on straight.. Lopez was a no-brainer at 10. The Nets could have gone a lot of different ways in the 2009 draft.
September 2009 – The Nets and Warriors restructure their deal for Marcus Williams. [A] Instead of getting the heavily protected Warriors first round pick in 2011, the Nets will get a more lighly protected Warriors pick in 2012 as well as second round pick in 2011. Talk about your freebies. The Nets now have a virtually guaranteed first round pick and a fully guaranteed second round for a guy they dumped on the Warriors and who the Warriors didn’t like enough to keep around.
January 2010 - The Nets trade a heavily protected 2010 second-round pick to the Miami Heat for guard Chris Quinn, a 2012 second-round pick and cash. Waived guard Rafer Alston. [B] Do we have to grade this one? It got rid of a guy who was very unhappy and replaced him with a solid citizen who gave the Nets some good minutes without complaint. The draft pick is unlikely to produce anything of significance. Whatever value it had went south with the signings of the Three Kings. It could be the last pick in the 2012 draft if you get our drift.
January 2010 - The Nets trade forward Eduardo Najera to the Dallas Mavericks for forwards Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams. Waived forward Sean Williams. [B] Let's break this one down into its component parts: the deal to sent Najera's very ugly contract away was an A. Getting Humphries back was a B-. Taking on Shawne Williams deal, deciding to keep him and then have him indicted was an F. Finally sending the other Williams away was a C. It was a sad, but foregone conclusion.
--May 2010 - Mikhail Prokhorov Buys the Nets--
June 2010 - The Nets draft forwards Derrick Favors with the third pick [A], Jordan Crawford with the 27th pick and Tibor Pleiss with the 31st pick, then trade the draft rights to Crawford and Pleiss to the Atlanta Hawks for the draft rights to forward Damion Jones [A+] It's early yet a couple of things seem to have emerged from the night's events: Favors has potential to be a very special player. We're still concerned about his aggressiveness, but his skillset is off the charts. Jones on the other hand is NBA-ready in part because of his aggressiveness and very underrated athleticism. He appears to be the very definition of a value pick.
June 2010 - The Nets decline the team option on Keyon Dooling, saving $3.3 million in cap space. [C] A presumably tough decision because of his value to the team as a leader, as a professional, but the team wanted as much cap space as possible. Would they have done this move if they knew they weren't getting any of the top picks? Good question.
June 2010 - The Nets trade Chris Douglas-Roberts to the Bucks for the Bulls' second round pick in the 2012 draft. [B] They were almost certainly going to dump him to preserve cap space, having tired of his personality and antics. Like the Heat pick in 2012, this is likely to be a very low pick.
June 2010 - The Nets trade Yi Jianlian to the Wizards for Quinton Ross [D+]. A salary dump of a rookie contract never seems like a good idea, particularly when he player is the third most popular celebrity in the world's most populous country...and you're trying to build a global brand. Yi had his problems, but 12 and 7 for a 22-year-old is a lot better than 2 and 1 for 29-year-old. The Nets will have $3 million more in cap space as a result of this deal so the grade could go up if the Nets make a cap-friendly deal.
July 2010 - The Nets sign guard Ben Uzoh and center Brian Zoubek.A]. Why an A for the signings of two undrafted rookies? Mainly because the Nets decided to spend money to bring these guys in. Both got partial salary protection meaning even if they're cut, they get something, probably in the five figure range. The Nets reportedly considering drafting both with a purchased pick late in the second round but got lucky. Mikhail Prokhorov says Michael Jordan congratulated him on the signing of Zoubek.
July 2010 - The Nets sign free agent Travis Outlaw to a five year, $35 million contract. [A]. We like this deal. Outlaw has never played in an uptempo system. His athleticism and shooting skills would seem to make him an ideal candidate for Avery Johnson's offense. He also earned the nickname, "Mr. Fourth Quarter" in Portland. As for the complaint that he is being overpaid, Outlaw is getting the equivalent of the MLE, which is the league average. With a 12 point average coming off the bench the last three years, that seems reasonable. Avery pushed for this one.
July 2010 - The Nets sign Anthony Morrow to a four-year, $12 million contract [A]. We like this one too. Morrow is 24 and easily the best three point shooter the Nets have had on their roster since trading Kerry Kittles in 2004. When left alone beyond the line, he hits better than 50% of his three's. In the Nets new offense, he should be a terrific weapon. Don't expect much more other than hard work, but for less than $3 million his first season, he's a bargain.
July 2010 - The Nets sign Johan Petro to a three-year, $10 million contract [B-]. The most interesting of the four free agent signings. Why? Because Petro would seem to be someone worth no more than the vets' minimum or an LLE equivalent, and yet... Thorn said the Nets have looked at Petro for the last several years and liked his athleticism. We saw his best game as a pro, at the Meadowlands in January 2008 when he went for 22, 9 and 3, shooting 10 for 15 and looking like the French Tim Duncan. He has potential, but not consistency.
July 2010 - The Nets sign Jordan Farmar to a three year, $12 million contract--third year a player option [A]. Another value signing, we think. Farmar, like Outlaw, hasn't been used to his fullest. He is a traditional point guard who's been stuck in the triangle. He got a reputation as a complainer and the Lakers dumped him. But he's only 23, the youngest of the four and can both pass and shoot. Moreover, he is a winner. Over the past five years, his teams have gone to the NBA Finals three times, winning twice; and the NCAA Championship Game. That counts.
Bottom line: Thorn leaves the team in better shape than he found it. 12-70 aside, the team has $14.9 million in cap space and 10 draft picks over the next three years, more than any other team...in both categories. His first four years were a triumph. He turned the franchise around, made Nets fans proud. All those great moments at the beginning of the decade may be a memory, but they are not lost.