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Williams' health could affect draft pick

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Williams' health could affect draft pick

Williams' health could affect draft pick

June 22, 2000

The former NBA executive said the prospects of center Jayson Williams being ready to play at the start of next season are not good because of knee and leg injuries, but that doctors are hopeful that guard Kerry Kittles can recover from a fourth knee operation and return next year.

Thorn also expects general manager John Nash to remain with the team. There were reports that he would be fired in the shakeup that saw president Michael Rowe resign and coach Don Casey fired after the team posted a 31-51 record and missed the playoffs for the second straight year.

"I like to have a lot of things going on at one time," Thorn said in his first telephone conference call since joining the franchise early this month. "I think it is very exciting, and we have a chance to do some real good things here in a short time."

The most pressing issue facing Thorn is whether to use the first pick overall in the draft next Wednesday or trade it for a combination of picks and players.

Making that decision harder is the absence of a sure-shot first pick.

Kenyon Martin, the University of Cincinnati power forward who was considered the top pick until he broke his right leg in the Conference USA tournament, started a two-day visit with the Nets on Wednesday.

Because of the injury, Martin will not work out, but team doctors plan to examine him closely, and their evaluation will influence the Nets choice, Thorn said.

A player who has improved every year in college, Martin is a terrific leaper who can block shots, convert around the basket and get fouled, Thorn said.

"You're talking about a big, mobile player who can cover threes, fours or, in some cases, fives and who gives you tremendous flexibility across the front line," Thorn said. "With Jayson Williams being in the condition he's in, we need to take a really close look at him because he would give to the team some of the things Jayson would."

Williams missed all of last season after breaking his right leg and tearing up his knee in a game against Atlanta on April 1, 1999. The former all-star has talked in recent weeks about retiring.

The other four players the Nets are looking at closely in the draft are forwards Marcus Fizer of Iowa State and Stromile Swift of LSU, center Chris Mihm of Texas and Darius Miles, the Illinois high school forward who Thorn admits is a year or two away from being ready for the NBA.

"His upside might be higher than any player in the draft," said Thorn, adding that if the Nets come to the conclusion that Miles will be great they won't pass him up because of his age.

Thorn said called Mihm a talented shooter who held his own in a good workout. Fizer is ready to play right now, while Swift has a big upside but needs more work in the weight room and a little more experience, Thorn said.

"To me you always have to take No. 1 who you think can help your team and No. 2 who you think the talent is," Thorn said.

As far as the search to replace Casey, Thorn said he has interviewed five candidates over the last 2½ weeks. No one has been offered the job, but Thorn said he hopes to hire someone in a couple of weeks.

Eddie Jordan, an assistant on Casey's staff, remains in the running.

"He's a very professional basketball coach," Thorn said. "He's had a lot of training over time and has a good affinity with players."

Working in Jordan's favor is the fact that point guard Stephon Marbury likes him and has made a point of telling management as much.

Image courtesy of Picturesnow.com

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