Many star NBA players go on to pursue coaching careers after they retire. Many even work their way up to head coaching positions in the league. Yet only three debuted as NBA head coaches in their very first season following their retirement: Paul Silas, Mike Dunleavy Sr., and Jason Kidd.
Kidd spent his first year coaching for the Brooklyn Nets. To help guide him, he brought on a veteran ensemble of assistant coaches. One of the assistants was Lawrence Frank. Ultimately, he and Kidd had a nasty, public falling out. Let’s look at Kidd’s coaching career and his rocky relationship with Frank.
Jason Kidd begins his coaching career with the Nets
Kidd retired as a player after the 2012-13 season and was promptly named head coach of the Nets. He was so excited about his future with the franchise that in September he bought a small ownership stake from Jay-Z, reports ESPN. The Nets were loaded with talent that year, acquiring stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in an offseason deal with the Celtics.
Yet despite their massive amount of talent, things got off to a rocky start for the Nets that season. By Christmas, they had compiled a worrisome 9-19 record, and Kidd’s coaching was starting to receive ample amounts of criticism. Some commentators openly questioned whether he would even make it through the entire season.
In the end, the Nets turned things around and posted a 44-38 record. Kidd even winning Eastern Conference Coach of the Month in both January and March. Although hardly spectacular, the Nets’ performance was good enough to enter the playoffs. They beat the Raptors in the first round, only to fall to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat in the second.
Kidd expresses early optimism for Lawrence Frank
Soon after joining the Nets, Kidd mounted a public campaign to recruit the talents of Frank, who just came off a disappointing two-season stint as head coach of the Detroit Pistons. The Nets ultimately lured away Frank by offering him a six-year, $6 million contract — the most lucrative assistant-coach contact in NBA history at the time, according to ABC News.
Per Kidd’s instructions, Frank as the lead assistant coach was given charge of the team’s defense. The Nets were also confident that Frank would prove valuable as a mentor figure to Kidd, helping to ease him into the rigors of head coaching in the NBA. By November, however, it was clear that Kidd and Frank would never achieve such a harmonious relationship.
Friction leads to Frank’s demotion
The relationship between Kidd and Frank began going downhill right at the start of the season. Kidd was suspended for the Nets’ first two games due to a DWI charge. Frank was reportedly upset that Kidd chose fellow assistant coach Joe Prunty as the interim head coach, rather than himself.
Kidd, meanwhile, soon became annoyed with Frank, who by most accounts was overstepping his bounds as an assistant coach. Even Nets players reportedly felt that Frank was overcoaching and stepping on Kidd’s toes, reports ESPN. Tensions finally boiled over in the aftermath of a loss on November 3, when Kidd verbally berated Frank in expletive-filled language.
“Sit the (expletive) down! I’m the coach of this (13-letter word) team! When you’re on the bench, don’t (expletive) move,” Kidd reportedly shouted at Frank, according to ESPN. Within a month, Kidd had demoted Frank to a significantly reduced role — basically filling out team reports. Frank no longer joined the team during practices, nor did he sit on the bench during games. The Nets bought him out the following September.