On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets finished negotiations with former NBA star and future hall-of-famer Jason Kidd to assume the head coaching position. Kid succeeds veteran coach P.J. Carlesimo. This is Jason Kidd’s first attempt at coaching, and fresh off his ball-playing retirement, many are already boasting confidence in Kidd for his illustrious 18-year NBA career in which he proved to be a team-leader with an unmatched IQ for the game. However, as a Nets fan I must express trepidations; Kidd’s lack of experience as a coach of any kind is only the tip of the iceberg. Really, there are gut issues that lie dormant in the Nets team, that track all the way up to the owner, the Russian magnate Mikhail Prokhorov.
Kidd is the third coach signed to the Nets in just one year playing in their new home of Brooklyn. Avery Johnson, the inaugural Brooklyn coach, saw his job replaced after a stint of bad games. Carlesimo’s Nets finished the season 35-19, but disappointed the new fans with an early exit from the playoffs at the hands of an undermanned Bulls team. Kidd suddenly jumped into the race to replace Carlesimo and won.
This sudden, repeated hiring and firing makes me wonder if Prokhorov is taking tips from another Russian billionaire sports franchise owner, Roman Abramovich. Abromovich is the patron of London’s richest English Premier League football team, FC Chelsea. Since his acquisition of the blues, Abramovich has kept a revolving door for his team’s figureheads, clearing out the Manager’s office every time Chelsea slips. He hires a top name, when the team isn’t winning, he throws out the baby with the bathwater. A Chelsea manager’s job security is so bad the Abromavich is forced to value termination clauses at around 50 million dollars just to attract the big names he wants. This hot seat mentality is not suited to Basketball, where franchises need to be built by individual stars and their supporting casts’ confidence in their off-court situation.
Yes, Kidd is the most famous Net’s player, but he was chosen over veteran coaches like Doc Rivers or Phil Jackson who may or may not have been possible replacements, but are definitely used to the ins and outs of a coaches duty. Leading is something Kidd has done before, but only as an on-court general. Personnel management off the court is something entirely different, and Kidd’s HR management remains to be seen.
Yet still, Prokhorov chose him for reasons he defined in brief.
“He has the fire in the belly we need,” Prokhorov told ESPN.
This desire for emotion probably stems from the more soft characters of P.J. Carlesimo and many of the players were clearly out-raptured by guys like the Bull’s Joakim Noah, who was a man possessed in that playoff series. Once again, Kidd has no lack of competitive zeal, but I strongly doubt this player intensity will transfer to locker room pep talks, time out tongue-lashings, inspirational fare in practice, and a host of other communicative benefits for the team. In short, Kidd is neither an emotional booster, nor a master rhetorician.
In addition, last year, Kidd caught a DWI charge on Long Island, and faces that case in the coming weeks. It is not basketball-related, obviously, but it cannot help to have that looming over a coaches’ head.
Kidd’s prowess as player will be helpful to the second most famous Net point guard star Deron Williams. Despite his versatility, Williams lead his team with a style that was short on inspiration. With or without Williams, the highlight reel does not like the Brooklyn Nets. Players like Brook Lopez, and my beloved Reggie Evans and Joe Johnson collect their numbers in way that is decidedly more steel than silk. Williams and Kidd have the capability to breath life and aesthetic beauty into their teammate’s game play.
And, of course, there is the fourth quarter. The Nets could use Kidd’s natural senses to bolster late-game prowess a level more winning, literally.