Could Kidd’s departure start a Nets decline?

By Jason Schott – Executive Editor – @JESchott19

The Nets officially traded the coaching rights to Jason Kidd to Milwaukee on Monday and received two second round picks in 2015 and 2019.

This all happened in a 36-hour period with a report on Saturday night that said Kidd asked the Nets for greater control of the team, to become head of basketball operations, and the Nets said no. Kidd basically wanted more power than General Manager Billy King, and the ownership was wise enough to see what he was trying to do. It shows that Kidd always hates anyone above him in the line of authority: when he played, he hated coaches; now as a coach, he hates general managers.

The Nets granted him permission to speak to the Bucks, and by 11:00 a.m. on Monday, he was the Bucks Head Coach.

His last public appearance as Nets Head Coach was on Thursday when the team announced that they will open the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn in 2015. Looking back on the morning, Kidd and General Manager Billy King kept their distance, as they were on either sides of the stage and in group pictures.

This capped a tumultuous year for Kidd as the Nets coach. He was hired on June 12, 2013 in a surprise move by King. Soon after that, his old coach in New Jersey, Lawrence Frank, was brought in to be his lead assistant. That did not work out as well, as Frank was dismissed a month into the season by Kidd. In retrospect, I wonder if the Nets regret that move.

In late November, Kidd was fined by the NBA for spilling a soda onto the floor to gain a timeout late in a loss to the Lakers. The Frank firing was a week later, and the team played horrendous basketball through the end of December, finishing the month at 10-21.

The Nets turned it around in 2014, starting with a win in Oklahoma City on a Joe Johnson buzzer-beater on January 2nd. He also had to re-make the team with the loss of center Brook Lopez for the season. They had great success with a smaller lineup with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson at the guards, Paul Pierce, and Shaun Livingston at the forward positions, and Kevin Garnett sliding over from power forward to center.

Kidd won Coach of the Month honors in January and March, just the second coach in Nets franchise history to win the award twice in the same season.

In the playoffs, Kidd did some questionable things. In Game 5 of the opening round series in Toronto against the Raptors, Kidd left his starters on the bench late in the game, which they ultimately lost. The Nets came back from down 3-2 to win that classic series.

He did the same thing in the opening game of the second round series in Miami. The Nets were down between 15-20 points early in the fourth quarter, and with their offense, they’re not really out of it. He sent in Kevin Garnett with around six minutes remaining, and pulled him a minute later. No other starter came in during the fourth. In essence, Kidd threw in the towel on a playoff game.

That questionable decision loomed large when the Nets lost a heartbreaker in Game 2 to fall behind 2-0 to the Heat. The Nets won Game 3 walking away, but lost Games 4 and 5 down the stretch, as Kidd could not figure out a way to jump-start the offense.

The Nets were right to let Kidd go, as they could give into his power play. His year as coach was, all things considered, a success, but that did not entitle him to full control over the franchise. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov likes General Manager Billy King a lot, and respects the job he has done getting them into the playoffs and close to a contender.

Kidd was looking for a deal like Doc Rivers has with the Clippers, Stan Van Gundy in Detroit, Flip Saunders in Minnesota, and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. There’s a big difference between those coaches and Kidd: they have earned it from winning year after year and earning the respect that comes with making personnel decisions.

Kidd received a 4-year, $10.5 million contract from the Nets a year ago. They should have offered him a fresh contract along the lines of what Steve Kerr got in Golden State and Derek Fisher got with the Knicks, as each received five years and $25 million. In fairness to Kidd, he earned it with the job he did last season.

The worry is that Kidd’s departure can presage a bad turn of events for the Nets, which continued with the departure of Shaun Livingston to Golden State on Tuesday night. Paul Pierce could be on the way out too, as the free agent may re-unite with his old coach Doc Rivers and join the Los Angeles Clippers. Andray Blatche and Alan Anderson are also free agents.


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