Vandeweghe promoted to GM, will help Nets find new direction

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kiki Vandeweghe became the New Jersey Nets' general manager Thursday, less than six months after being hired as a special assistant to team president Rod Thorn.

Vandeweghe replaces Ed Stefanski, who left in midseason to become the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.

"We are very pleased that Kiki will continue his relationship with the Nets' organization," Thorn said. "When Kiki joined us in December, I felt that his experience as both an All-Star player and front office executive would be an invaluable asset to both myself and the franchise, and his work in the ensuing months has reinforced that belief."

The general manager's job is the second for Vandeweghe. He held the same position with the Denver Nuggets from August 2001 until the end of the 2005-06 season.

Neither Vandeweghe nor the Nets disclosed terms of his new contract.

"I hope that I have had some positive influence as to the roster and the direction," said Vandeweghe, whose initial five-plus months included the blockbuster trade of All-Star point guard Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks.

Vandeweghe said he and Thorn share a sense of what needs to be done to improve the team.

"I think both of us believe you have to pick a direction, and understand that, and do things that head in that direction," Vandeweghe said. "Neither one of us likes Band-Aid solutions. I have never been a big fan of those."

Vandeweghe's immediate task is to get the Nets back on track after they missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

New Jersey will have two first-round picks in the NBA draft in June, one that Vandeweghe said is rich in talent.

Vandeweghe believes the team has a big three component with guard Vince Carter, forward Richard Jefferson and Devin Harris, the point guard of the future acquired in the Kidd deal.

"We need to focus on improving the guys we got," said Vandeweghe, noting that Michael Jordan improved something in his game every year.

Vandeweghe said the Nets will look to sign free agents and will consider trades, but not at the risk of hurting the team's salary cap situation. He said the Nets need to improve their toughness, interior defense and outside shooting.

Decisions will be made as a team, Vandeweghe said.

"Whoever has the best idea, that's the way you go," Vandeweghe said.

Vandeweghe was originally signed to a six-month contract, and he said there was an initial feeling-out period.

"Very quickly it became apparent to me that I was comfortable, that I liked Rod and I liked the people I was working with," Vandeweghe said.

The Nets have four free agents, centers Nenad Krstic and DeSagana Diop, guard Darrell Armstrong and forward Bostjan Nachbar. Krstic is the only starter, while Nachbar was a frequent contributor in the Nets' rotation.