The ever-spinning NBA coaching carousel never takes a rest—even for stay-off-the-court, virus-driven game stoppages. The Brooklyn Nets are in the market for a new coach in/when the season resumes or, in a worst-case scenario, for the start of the 2021-2022 season. Circling the rumor mill as one of the possible replacements is former coach and Hall of Fame player, Jason Kidd.
Hall of Famer Jason Kidd among those in line to coach the Nets
The team’s most recent coach, Kenny Atkinson, stepped down as the Nets’ coach in early March, about a week before the league halted play due to COVID-19. The net result leaves a lot of time for speculation and input from experts and fans. The leading candidates for the open slot are former Cavaliers head coach Tyrone Lue, former Golden State Warrior coach Mark Jackson, former Knicks, and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, interim coach Jacque Vaughn, and Jason Kidd.
Of the possible candidates, Kidd is the least likely candidate. Currently, the former Cal Berkeley All-American guard serves as the assistant coach for the Lakers, but his head-coaching resume includes two less-than-stellar stints, one year with the Brooklyn Nets and three-plus years with the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd’s personal issues, which include a DWI and spousal abuse claims, along with an inability to get along with players, should make him the choice of last resort for the Nets.
Jason Kidd’s first go-round with the Nets
If the Nets management makes the ill-informed decision to hire Jason Kidd as its next coach, it will not be his first time as the team’s skipper. After retiring from the New York Knicks as a player at the end of the 2012-2013 season, Kidd was named coach of the Nets in June 2013. Three months later, before the start of the season, Kidd bought Jay-Z’s fractional ownership stake of the team for $500,000.
Minority owner or not, several reports indicated that Kidd was in over his head from the start. As a coach, the primary issue was that the former star point guard had difficulty getting along with his veteran players. Things came to a head between Kidd and Kevin Garnett after a December blowout loss to the Bulls. Paul Pierce, a guard with the Nets at that time, spoke about the incident on the Showtime program, “All the Smoke.”
“J Kidd come in there. Aw, he yelling. He yelling at us. And I know KG kind of got in J Kidd’s face. I thought he was about to whoop J Kidd. Straight up … Went up in his face. “I ain’t no whoop whoop.” Had his towel on. He had his towel on, like about to get into the shower, in front of everybody. And then just walked off to the shower. I swear, from that point on, it turned our season around. KG cares so much.”Paul Pierce
After the turn-around, the Nets went on to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in five games.
With Jason Kidd, the Bucks got out of the gate strong but then sputtered
After the 2014 NBA Playoffs, Kidd was traded by the Nets to Milwaukee to become the Bucks’ new head coach. In his first year at the helm, he helped improve the team from a 15-win season the year before to a 41-win record for ’14-’15. The 10-time NBA All-Star finished third in Coach of the Year balloting.
“He’s a big part of my success in the league,” Antetokounmpo told NBA.com about Kidd after coaching change. “I’m loyal to the people I work with. I love him as a person. I care about him as a person.”Giannis Antetokounmpo
The following season (2015-2016) was less kind to Kidd. The Oakland, California native started the Bucks’ year with high hopes, but things quickly went downhill. The team ended the year with 33 wins, with Kidd ending his season sitting out after hip surgery. One bright spot was Kidd’s work with 21-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, who built a strong relationship with Kidd and blossomed into a superstar.
The rest of Kidd’s tenure with the Bucks was filled with turmoil, with rumors of him not getting along with such players as Jabari Parker as well as allowing the team’s defense to become one of the NBA’s worst. Kidd was summarily fired midway through the 2017-2018 season.
A stern warning to Lakers brass: stay away from Kidd
Jason Kidd, now an assistant coach with the Lakers, has been rumored to be under consideration for the top job, but several observers caution owner Jeannie Buss to think twice about such a move.
Anthony Irwin, a reporter for SBNation, sums it up:
“There are plenty of basketball reasons not to hire Kidd, but more importantly, this would be a message that, for the sake of a thoroughly mediocre-to-outright-poor coach, the Lakers are willing to look the other way in the face of legitimate criminal convictions. Not allegations, mind you, but convictions. It wouldn’t be okay to ignore a history like this for anyone in the organization, but for a job as replaceable as [an] assistant coach, this would be a colossal mistake.”