Nets president weighing coach's future

April 22, 2009 4:04:11 PM PDT
The fate of New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank is in the hands of Rod Thorn. The Nets president met with high-ranking team officials Tuesday night and said he will make a decision on Frank's future in what he called a timely fashion.

Frank has been the Nets' coach since January 2004 but his future is uncertain after two straight 34-win seasons that saw the team miss the playoffs. New Jersey had made the playoffs six consecutive seasons, reaching the NBA Finals in 2002 and '03 under previous coach Byron Scott.

"I have always liked Lawrence as a coach and been supportive of Lawrence," Thorn said Wednesday, a week after the Nets ended the season. "I know a lot of good things he does as a coach, it's part of it. We've won a certain number of games two years in a row and it's natural we sit down, we always sit down at the end of the year and talk about players, coaches and this is part of it."

Thorn, whose voice was raspy because of a bout with laryngitis, said Frank had his supporters at the meeting the night before with owner Bruce Ratner and other unidentified team officials. He added the coach did a good job bringing along rookies Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts, and that the team did better than the 25 to 30 wins that most experts predicted.

However, it was obvious that he was disappointed with missing the playoffs again. New Jersey went 4-12 in March and 8-16 in the final 24 games.

Frank has one year left on his contract, which will pay him $4.5 million.

"I would never say that money doesn't play a role in the economic times we're in right now, but it's not an overriding factor," Thorn said.

More pressing concerns are whether Frank can get the team to play better and whether the players are still listening to him.

"I wouldn't say it's my primary concern, it is one of them," Thorn said. "You just look at the whole thing. Have we gone as far as we can go with the way we are going or if we have a new voice can it give us an infusion to go higher, is basically what I am looking at."

Thorn declined to put a time frame of his decision.

While saying that Thorn is responsible for basketball decisions, Ratner voiced confidence in Frank at the last home game.

"I believe we have a very good coach, and he's done a very good job over the years we've had him," Ratner said.

Thorn knows where Ratner stands.

"It's my decision so you always think about your franchise, you always think about what's in the best interest of your franchise," Thorn added. "And I always try to do that, whatever decision that I'm making. But in this instance, it's my decision and I'm just trying to think it through."

Thorn talked to some players about Frank, adding their feelings would be included in his evaluation.

When Thorn fired Scott and promoted Frank, he said the players needed to hear a new voice.

"You try to be realistic about where your team is, where your team is going, what kind of voice you need more strident, calmer, depending on what you have," Thorn said. "Or do you think that you need a change?"

Thorn said he would not wait to see what happens with some other coaches before making a decision.

"I've been doing this stuff for so long I found that if you take the emotion out of it and you just look at how you perceive the facts, you put down these are the positives and these are the negatives," Thorn said. "You put them down and you know what you think is important. You look at it and think about it and you go from there."