- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Rod Thorn will step down as president of the New Jersey Nets on July 15, according to league sources.
Thorn, the Nets president since 2000, is under contract through June 30 but will remain for two weeks to help the club through the first two weeks of the free-agency period.
Thorn is not being forced out by the Nets' new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and there is no tension between the two, according to sources.
"They've given Rod everything he could want," a league executive said. "This is entirely his decision."
Thorn had no comment on the report in a telephone call with The Associated Press on Friday night.
"I appreciate your inquiry," Thorn said.
The move leaves the Nets in a quandary. There is no apparent successor within the organization and the uncertainty will undoubtedly hurt the Nets' ability to recruit free agents.
A person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press Saturday that possible candidates to replace Thorn included Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti, New Orleans GM Jeff Bower and Nets vice president Bobby Marks.
Thorn, 69, gave no indication he was stepping down when talking to the media on Friday. He discussed Thursday's draft and felt the league-worst Nets got two key pieces by taking power forward Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech with the third pick overall and acquiring the rights to small forward Damion James (No. 24 overall) from Atlanta for two other draft picks.
He said that the next thing on the agenda is July 1, and the long-awaited free-agency signing period. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh might all be available, and the Nets are ready to put $27 million on the table as enticement.
"We expect to be players and we expect to be in the mix," Thorn said Friday. "Hopefully, it will work out and we will be successful. Until you get out there, you don't know."
Thorn was named executive of the year in 2002 after the Nets went to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Prior to working for the Nets, he was the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations from 1986 to 2000.
Thorn was the general manager of the Bulls when Chicago landed Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss