Friday, December 27, 2013

Jason Kidd is Losing the Nets' Support

Photo via Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News

Mikhail Prokhorov, Billy King, and the Nets organization went all in this summer. After a disappoingting first-round exit in the playoffs to the Chicago Bulls last season, Nets hierarchy decided to break up that playoff roster (which was viewed as a perennial first or second round exit) for a team more suited to win an NBA Championship now. The team went out and traded for future Hall-of-Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, gutting the future for a win-now and only now team. After a few signings to bolster the bench, everything seemed in place for a possible championship run.

That is, everything except the head coach.

After not retaining interim-coach PJ Carlesimo, Brooklyn needed a man to coach the team. For a win-now team, a coach with experience was seemingly needed. However, Brooklyn went against the grain, hiring former point guard Jason Kidd to run the show. The 40-year old was fresh out of retirement, having been part of the New York Knicks team that lost to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Kidd had never coached at any level of basketball, so GM Billy King was taking a huge risk with the hire, one he hoped would pay off greatly.

28 games into Kidd’s first season in Brooklyn, King’s risk looking like it’s going to fail miserably. The star-studded Nets are 9-19, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Kidd is losing support within not only the locker room, but also the organizational hierarchy.

From Wojnarowski:

The Nets had tried to be supportive of Kidd, but patience is running low on the belief he can deliver the structure and organization desperately needed. As the Nets have devolved into chaos, Kidd has increasingly isolated himself within the locker room and organization, sources told Yahoo Sports. From management to players, Kidd has shown an inability to manage crisis and keep the respect of his players.
                                                                                                                                                      Rifts exist between old players and new, trust eroded with every humiliating loss in this 9-19 season.
                                                                                                                                                    More than once, sources said, players have stood in the locker room and told Kidd they don't understand their roles, that there's confusion about their principles. When the Nets players keep insisting they don't have a team identity, they're offering code words for Kidd's inability to give them clear structure, organization and vision.

Wojnarowski also goes into detail about the relationship between Kidd and longtime coach Lawrence Frank, which peaked with the demotion of Frank from top assistant to “report-filing duties”:

Long before training camp in September, the coaching staff met for hours, discussed a defensive system and Kidd then worked with Frank to implement it in the preseason. Soon, Kidd changed his mind. Suddenly, the authority he had given Frank to be a strong voice had been rescinded.
                                                                                                                                                   Suddenly, Kidd the player was back with the Nets. In crisis, he wanted a scapegoat. This was such a players' mentality: Trade Frank, cut him – just don't make me deal with the issue. As a head coach, the job is to manage a staff, work through problems. Kidd refused, and it's deeply contributed to how lost he has become now.
                                                                                                                                                         All along, Kidd keeps pushing a fictional storyline that there were "differing agendas" with Frank, a suggestion that his assistant coach had been undermining him. The Nets were running the defense Kidd wanted this summer, and Frank had been the presence in practice that Kidd had encouraged upon his hiring. In the end, Kidd wanted "yes" men around him. Now, there's no one to challenge him. In so many ways, Kidd is all alone on this job.
                                                                                                                                                       Of course, Kidd had been warned. Before he pushed out Frank, sources said, other assistant coaches pleaded with him: Please don't do this. The message to Kidd was this: Even if you think you don't need him, the rest of us do. Kidd didn't listen to his staff, nor management on this impulsive act.

This is exactly what the Nets don't need. They're 9-19, fourth in the Atlantic Division, and just lost arguably their best player (Brook Lopez) for the season to yet another broken foot. The team could use some stability, but according to this report, they won't be getting any anytime soon.

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