Jason Kidd’s days in Brooklyn are over. Next stop: Milwaukee.
Fresh off his first season as a head coach, in which he led Brooklyn to a 44-38 record and a playoff berth, Kidd was not content with merely coaching and holding a minority interest in the team. The New York Post reported this weekend that he had approached Nets ownership with a number of demands to increase his role -- apparently asking for oversight of basketball operations and a title that would place him above general manager Billy King in the Nets’ organizational structure.
Those demands were in keeping with Kidd’s reputation as a power-hungry tantrum-thrower. Recall his history of using his on-the-court skills to oust those above him during his playing days, from Cal coach Lou Campanelli in 1993 to Nets coach Byron Scott in 2004. Earlier this season, Brooklyn tried to pacify Kidd by systematically pushing his assistant (and former Nets head coach) Lawrence Frank into the shadows as Kidd felt control of his team slipping away.
Each of those events was a case of Kidd biting the hand that fed him. Campanelli had recruited Kidd to Cal; Scott was at the time the winningest Nets coach ever and led the team to the NBA Finals for the first time in team history. Brooklyn, meanwhile, took a leap of faith in signing the rookie coach to a four-year, $10.5 million contract. He’s set to make $2.5 million next season, with a club option for 2015-16.
Perhaps he felt he was owed more after seeing Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher rake in the cash with huge rookie coaching contracts of their own in Golden State and New York, respectively. Maybe he, like the rest of us, was bewildered by the Detroit Pistons’ willingness to give Stan Van Gundy both bench and front-office control, and thought he deserved a similar shot. Whatever the motivation, the Nets wisely stood their ground this time, refusing to expand Kidd’s role. The Bucks have agreed to send the Nets two second-round draft picks in exchange for Kidd's coaching rights.
You have to wonder what the Bucks’ new owners are thinking in all of this, given Kidd’s petulant history and his as-yet unproved coaching prowess. According to ESPN's Andy Katz, Kidd will only assume coaching duties and is not in line for a front-office position. The Bucks today fired coach Larry Drew, who reportedly had no contact with the team during the past few days. As CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel writes, the move paints Marc Lasry as the worst kind of owner: a “meddler,” or, in terms New York Knicks fans understand all too well, a Dolan.
The Nets, meanwhile, will emerge relatively unscathed after standing up to the playground bully, and could even benefit from having some adults in the room. Brooklyn is reportedly in talks with veteran coach Lionel Hollins to replace Kidd. Hollins helped oversee the Memphis Grizzlies’ (brief) turnaround, leading them to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. Brooklyn should act fast: Hollins has also emerged as the front-runner to coach the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets.
As for Kidd, his eternal quest for more power and affirmation continues, bringing him from hipster Brooklyn to Milwaukee, where Pabst Blue Ribbon isn’t an affectation, but just happens to be on tap.
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