The Nets made the playoffs in 2012-13, but for ambitious owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the key figure in the team’s return to New York, it simply wasn’t enough. Prokhorov expected more out of his offensively gifted squad, which led to the in-season dismissal of head coach Avery Johnson and the postseason axing of interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. Now, Prokhorov has proven his bold nature once again, handing Jason Kidd the reins to his franchise.
After what amounted to a semi-successful but overall disappointing first season in Brooklyn, the Nets selected former New Jersey Nets perennial All-Star guard and recent retiree Jason Kidd as the next head coach of their newly relocated franchise.
There is no single figure in a professional basketball franchise that is held more immediately accountable for his team’s success or lack thereof, than the head coach. So perhaps the biggest question in this hiring is whether or not Jason Kidd is ready for that kind of day-to-day responsibility. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Kidd was busted for drunk driving after crashing his SUV in the Hamptons, a mistake a player might be able to explain away, but a coach certainly could not. Now being handed the keys to the Nets’ future, Brooklyn fans are hoping Kidd doesn’t slam it into a tree.
It’s ironic both that Jason Kidd has so quickly turned to coaching, and that he will be coaching Deron Williams, because as a player Kidd was known as a bit of a coach killer himself. Widely respected as one of the league’s smartest players and greatest point guards, Kidd also had a history of clashing with head coaches. His tumultuous relationships with team skippers led to several firings over the course of his career, though that could just be because he was positive he would do a better job if he was coaching the team himself. One thing’s for sure—we’ll soon find out if he was right.
There’s no question about it, Deron Williams is an elite NBA point guard. Among coaches however, he’s less than beloved. Known as a very particular personality and a bit of a coach killer, Williams has yet to truly mesh with an NBA skipper. Kidd could be the one to change all that though, as he and Williams have had a healthy relationship, as off-court friends and even golf partners. But will that translate as they become player-coach? Deron seems to think so, he tweeted this: “Excited to get to work under our new head coach. [Jason Kidd is a] great leader and great basketball mind will be a great head coach. #BROOKLYN”
A big part of what gave Kidd such pull despite his lack of experience, is the fact that many consider him to be the greatest player in the history of the Nets franchise. In fact, one of the first things owner Mikhail Prokhorov acknowledged after pulling the trigger on his new head coach, was that ”Jason Kidd has a long and legendary history with the Nets.” In fact, in his first two years with the team, Kidd led the New Jersey Nets to improbable back-to-back trips to the Finals and was a five-time All Star while donning the uniform.
Jason Kidd has never been a head coach, at any level. Jason Kidd has never been assistant coach, at any level. Hell, at just 40 years old, Jason Kidd only officially announced his retirement as an NBA player a little over a week ago. Hiring Kidd is a gamble for sure, but Prokhorov and the Nets were determined to make a splash, and once Phil Jackson rebuffed their interest, Kidd quickly became a legit candidate for the job. He’s green for sure, but there’s no question that he has an unbelievable basketball mind and could wind up being a brilliant hire.