The Brooklyn Nets interviewed a number of candidates for their coaching vacancy, but the name they’ve settled on has shocked much of the basketball world in the past 24 hours.
Freshly retired point guard Jason Kidd will take over as Nets coach immediately, going from Hall of Fame in the midst of a postseason push with the New York Knicks to head coach of their neighboring borough rivals in just a matter of weeks. It’s a complete gamble by Mikhail Prokhorov and an organization that was led to its best days by Kidd, but if the Nets were going to change the culture surrounding their team, they had to switch things up in a drastic and unexpected way.
The Nets passed on Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, who for whatever reason just can’t seem to land himself a job. They’ll now have to surround Kidd with a number of assistants, one of which is rumored to be former Nets coach Lawrence Franks. While Kidd believes he is prepared for the job, the pressure of working your first head coaching job in a city like New York is a daunting task, so who he can get to assist him will prove vital.
With a lineup centered around Deron Williams, the pressure is now on the point guard to live up to his potential, especially when he’s being guided by the man with the second most assists of all time. If Kidd does one thing for the Nets it’ll be to help give the team an identity of playing unselfish basketball.
Truth be told, the Nets have the pieces in place to be a very competitive team. A good big man, a strong point guard with great court vision and a mid size scorer in Joe Johnson, Brooklyn is team that could go from good to very good if Kidd can get the front court to play defense like he did during his days in a Nets uniform.
But being a leader on the team and studying what the coach does is different from being the coach. Kidd’s quotes indicate that he is ready to be held accountable for that, but will Prokhorov be patient with him if he experiences hiccups along the way? The players have to buy into Kidd immediately which, regardless of what they say, may not be as easy of a transition as one might think. With $89 million worth of salary already committed to next season, Kidd also faces a tough challenge of finding guys that can help this team complete their bench without spending a lot of money.
This move is the latest gamble for Nets GM Billy King, who will be equally as nervous as Kidd given his history with the franchise. Having been the guy behind some suspect drafts and ridiculous free agent signings, King may be on thin ice with this latest move. Remember, this is the guy who traded for Joe Johnson’s massive deal only to see him disappoint and spent the team’s second overall draft pick in 2005 on Marvin Williams when Deron Williams and Chris Paul were still on the board. To say the least, King hasn’t always been part of the solution and with the team outside of the lottery this year, getting Kidd a good piece to add in the draft is going to be even more difficult than in years past.
Needless to say this move is all over the headlines in Gotham and the Nets are stealing a bit of the limelight from their notorious neighbors at Madison Square Garden. For the remainder of the summer, it’s probably safe to assume you can expect the unexpected from these two teams when it comes to making the news.