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Thorn and Stefanski worked together in New Jersey and helped lead the franchise to consecutive trips to the NBA finals in 2002-03. The Nets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, respectively.

“I think we were a hell of a team in New Jersey and the results showed it,” Stefanski said. “There’s no reason to say we’re not going to do the same thing here.”

Thorn had called the shots for the Nets since 2000 and hired Avery Johnson as coach before resigning. Thorn helped turn the Nets into a contender in 2001 when he engineered a trade to bring Jason Kidd to New Jersey.

Before joining the Nets, Thorn was the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations from 1986-2000.

Thorn said it was painful to be forced to dismantle the Nets, and insisted the arrival of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov had no affect on his decision to leave. Thorn said he was offered a “very lucrative” deal to stay with the Nets.

“My feeling was, my time had run it course there,” he said. “There are no nefarious reasons, no smoking guns. It was just a personal decision.”

Collins, who caught a redeye flight from San Diego to attend the press conference, believed Thorn’s arrival will help make them a winner.

“These two guys have had so much success together and I feel good about where we are,” Collins said.

Marreese Speights, Thaddeus Young and Williams are part of the core of young players who have to improve for the Sixers to contend for a playoff spot. Andre Iguodala, who has never made an All-Star team as Philadelphia’s best player, has earned raves this month for his play while trying out for Team USA.

If they all play to their potential, maybe the Sixers can win 40 games.

It’s not nearly enough in the Eastern Conference to contend with Miami, Boston or Orlando this season.

But Thorn has arrived to attempt to ensure better days are ahead.