One of the more popular trends in the NBA over the last few years has been the hiring of former players to be placed as head coach without any experience as an assistant. One of the most notable of these coaches is Jason Kidd, who after a decent first year as coach of the Nets attempted a failed power play that now has him out of Brooklyn. As a result, he has been hired to coach the NBA’s worst team, the Milwaukee Bucks, a move that essentially demotes him.
Kidd becoming the official head coach of the Brooklyn Nets was a highly controversial move last season. He had just finished his last game as a player nine days before being hired as coach. Furthermore, by bringing in a player without any coaching experience whatsoever is a controversial one. While there have been others, namely Mark Jackson, at least he proved his worth as a knowledgeable announcer before taking the plunge. On the other end of the spectrum is Kidd, who while he served as a knowledgeable player on the court, had no clue how to coach a team, and it showed early on.
Despite his struggles, Kidd had a remarkably good season as a first year coach. His team finished with a 44-38 record and made it to the second round of the playoffs, which is why his latest move where he burned bridges with Nets management is a real head scratcher. It was reported over the last few days that recently Kidd attempted to place himself into a role like Doc Rivers has in Los Angeles — to become president of basketball operations while maintaining his head coach position. Furthermore, he went behind the back of general manager Billy King to ask Russian ownership for him to take over personnel.
Little did Kidd know, he did not have the pull he thought he did, thus he completely ruined his standing in the organization as they let him talk to the Milwaukee Bucks as a general manager. Only, in turn, they did not give into giving him the cushy executive position, considering he had no upper management experience. Instead, he has the same position as he did in Brooklyn as head coach. It came at a price for Milwaukee though as they had to send 2015 and 2019 second-round draft picks.
It is an interesting turn of events as Kidd had a squad with a chance to capitalize on the success of last season. He was in prime position by being given a plethora of quality talent he should have been thankful to receive, especially considering Kidd’s first two months on the job were shaky at best. First and foremost, he had an unflattering beginning as he was suspended the first two games of the season due to a DWI conviction. In early December, controversy turned to behind the scenes where, despite enlisting his former coach Lawrence Frank as an assistant, he and the team deep sixed him from the sidelines. Rumblings behind the scenes were that Kidd had been paranoid of Frank, which supposedly led to a profanity-filled tirade toward the assistant in clear view of the players and coaches. Not many days later he intentionally bumped and spilled his drink on the floor to stop the clock in a game that ultimately saw his team lose to the Lakers. Due to the incident, he was fined $50,000. Most damaging though is the fact that during the first two months of the season his squad only totaled a 10-21 record. As such, there were rumors of the coach’s dismissal partway through the season; however, that never happened.
Despite all his problems early on, whether through Kidd managed to finish with a 44-38 record. Additionally, his team began to show some consistency and managed to sweep the Miami Heat during their season series. However, despite those regular season victories, his squad fell to the Heat in five games after making a remarkable run to the semi-conference finals. No matter all the controversy and his team looking weak early on in the season, Kidd had a remarkable turnaround season in New Jersey as head coach. While it may seem like a shocker for the former point guard to essentially burn bridges with an organization with what looks like a successful future, it is not the first time Kidd has left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
Every team he has been on, from the Mavericks twice, to the Suns, the Nets now twice and Knicks, Kidd has had left on unpleasant terms. In more recent years, Kidd had won a championship in Dallas. At the end of his contract with Dallas, he had agreed with owner Mark Cuban to return. Instead, he opted to go to New York for essentially the same amount of money. After his one year stint in New York, he did it once again, when he had been talking to New York to return. Instead, days later, he elected to retire and coach the Brooklyn Nets. Furthermore, he has been notorious for being selfish and hard to work with throughout his NBA career, which is why after his failed attempt to take the front office in New Jersey, he was up a creek without a paddle.
Part of the reason rumored to be why Kidd wanted a change in his position is not only due to Doc Rivers and now Stan Van Gundy’s roles, but he was aggravated by the larger contracts given within the last month to Steve Kerr and Derrick Fisher. In other words, he felt as if he deserved more money and a longer-term contract. His only way to change that was to promote himself, but when that did not work out, he was taken aback. As a result, he grabbed towards the promotion he longed for as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. However, Milwaukee refused and, instead, fired Larry Drew as coach to bring Kidd in as coach.
If Kidd’s reputation was not bad enough by forcing people out and making bad on his word with previous teams, this latest move firmly establishes himself as a backstabber. Because of this reason, it is shocking that Milwaukee would even consider having him as part of the team. Sure, he is a future hall of famer. He was great point guard, but he seems to be more trouble than he is worth.
It is rumored that Kidd will get his desired position as GM with the Bucks eventually, however, if New Jersey taught him anything, he should be careful as this most recent move is something that could have pushed him out of the NBA entirely. This latest power play that failed miserably essentially demotes him as he is now coach of the lowly Milwaukee Bucks. Now he has to prove himself as a good coach, because unlike last season, he does not have and most likely will not have, the talent level he had in Brooklyn. More importantly, the Nets are most likely thankful to no longer have him, and from now on he is the Bucks’ problem.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey