The tension between the Brooklyn Nets' rookie head coach Jason Kidd and former assistant Lawrence Frank has managed to overshadow the team's abysmal 6-14 start.
A report by NBA.com's David Aldridge reveals new details of the strained relationship, which was destined to fail from the moment the two stood together on the sideline. Frank was hired at Kidd's request to ease his transition to head coach and to do what Frank does best: focus on minutiae and tweak plays while serving as Kidd's mentor. This might have sounded good in theory, but once the clock started running, Kidd grew threatened by Frank's ability to simply do his job.
"The assistant's job is to stand up and call coverages," an NBA coaching source told Aldridge. "Jason didn't like it. He thought Lawrence was coaching the team."
The hit to Kidd's ego has resulted in profanity-laden rants and last week's reassignment of Frank to keeping unspecified "daily reports," which sounds like the NBA equivalent of Bart Simpson's writing on the chalkboard. It's only a matter of time before Frank is free from basketball exile; he's retaining legal counsel to seek a buyout of his six-year, $6 million contract, after which the Nets can go back to focusing on not winning games.
The thing is, it didn't have to come to this. Kidd knew exactly what he was getting into when he hired Frank, having played under him for seven seasons from 2001 to 2008 on the New Jersey Nets. In fact, it was at Kidd's urging that the team promoted Frank from assistant to head coach in 2004, after the unceremonious firing of Byron Scott. Kidd learned that season that petulance pays, publicly berating Scott before petitioning management to sever ties. He ultimately got his way, leaving Scott -- at that time the winningest coach in Nets history -- out to dry.
Now Frank suffers a fate similar to the man he replaced. Kidd needs to get over whatever insecurity he has if he wants to succeed as a head coach. His long, successful playing career may have helped him earn his players' trust, but he can just as easily lose hold of an underachieving team of big-name stars if he lets his ego get in the way.