Nets CEO, Rod Thorn play blame game for Nets 12-win season

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Thumbnail image for nets-logo.gifWhen you lose 70 games in a season, everyone should get some blame. Players, coaches, front office, owner, equipment manager, everyone except the guy running the good imported beer concession. Never blame the guy selling beer.

In the last few days, Nets CEO Brett Yormark — a guy retained in the Mikhail Prokhorov power structure despite getting in a yelling match with a fan last season — and former Nets GM Rod Thorn got in a blame game.

The New York Post’s Peter Vecsey got Thorn to admit on the record that he was no big fan of Yormark, but that was not why he left. (Yes, Vecsey used actual quotes not just anonymous sources, that was the biggest news in the story.)

“I don’t deny my dislike for the guy,” Thorn admitted last Friday when asked by phone about their contentious relationship. “But he’s not the reason I left…

“I’d decided to retire long before the sale. Personal things happened over the last two years that made me realize it was time to go.”

Thorn is now the general manager for the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Sunday, Yormark threw Thorn under the bus in the Bergen Record.

“For the last couple of months I’ve been clearly focused on working with [general manager Billy King] and Avery on getting this franchise back to a best-in-class status,” Yormark said Sunday evening. “Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done after Rod’s 12-70 season, both on and off the court.”

Of course, Yormark tried to fix that by brining John Calipari back to the NBA… that would have been a mistake. Big mistake. Calipari can recruit and has a nice college offensive system, but we have seen the NBA show before and you can’t recruit in the NBA (unless you are Pat Riley).

Yormark gets some blame. Thorn maybe gets more blame — he did a bad job building the Net roster by doing things like holding on to Vince Carter too long. The Nets bad roster last season was largely on him.

But the real problem is that when the front office key players can’t get along you are doomed. They don’t have to be best buds and have weekend family barbecues together, but they have to work well together. If not, well, you get the Nets.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.