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Hurt feelings sparked Del Harris' departure from New Jersey

Feb 8, 2010, 10:20 AM EDT

Del Harris has a long and storied career as a coach in the NBA. He has a career win percentage of 54.9% in over 1,000 games as a head coach in the pros, not to mention his years of experience as a top assistant.

So when New Jersey Nets’ President Rod Thorn reportedly scoffed at the notion of the then-Nets’ assistant Harris potentially taking over the head coaching job next year, it’s easy to understand why Harris up and left at the earliest opportunity. From Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger:

[Harris' agent, Warren] LeGarie, one of the game’s heaviest hitters, told Thorn the Nets would
be better off letting Harris take over and moving Kiki Vandeweghe back
to the front office, if only to begin preparation for 2010-11.

According
to one of the officials, Thorn interrupted LeGarie with this door-slam:
“Hold it right there,” he said. “All due respect, he will not be the
next head coach here. So if he has any delusions about that, you should
let him know it’s not going to happen.”

On one hand, you have to appreciate Thorn’s candor; he had no intention of ushering Harris into the head gig, and he made that perfectly clear.

Maybe a bit too clear. Kiki Vandeweghe brought in Harris, his friend from their time spent together on the sideline in Dallas, as a safety net. That much is certain. But did Thorn have to be quite so dismissive of Harris’ abilities as a coach? I see no harm in the Nets leaving their options open for the coaching search to come, which would allow them the opportunity to explore other possible candidates while leaving the door open for Harris. New Jersey could do much worse than have Del as the man at the head of the bench, and his tremendous amount of NBA coaching experience would have made him a nice mentor for the stable of young talent on the Nets’ roster.

But alas, Rod Thorn wasn’t shy about speaking his mind, and as such he’s chased Del Harris all the way back home to Texas. Harris is expected to re-join the new, unnamed D-League team in Frisco, TX as the general manager.

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