The Nets hired Jason Kidd as a rookie head coach this summer, less than 10 days after his retirement from a Hall of Fame career that lasted 19 seasons.
Brooklyn’s front office wasn’t exactly camped out on Kidd’s doorstep, however, waiting to pounce once he technically became available. No, it was Kidd who reached out through his agent to Nets’ brass to see if there might be an opportunity, and initially, there wasn’t.
Nets GM Billy King, speaking during the TNT telecast to David Aldridge during Brooklyn’s preseason win over the Heat on Thursday, explained the details of how it all went down, and revealed some of the qualities in Kidd that impressed him enough to give the first-time head coach a shot.
As transcribed by Brian Fleurantin of Nets Daily:
David Aldridge: It is, it’s one thing to put a team like that together. But it’s another thing to turn it over to someone who’s never coached before [Aldridge and King laugh]. So, I mean, what was the thought process when you thought Jason Kidd was a good fit for this team?
Billy King: When we first sat down and talked, you know, just listening to him talk about the team. He was talking about what he would have done in certain games, how we would use the lineup, how he wanted to play, and a lot of the things he talked about were things that I believed in. And, so, we had a two and a half – three hour conversation the first time, and I walked away believing. And then, so we talked again, and then I was convinced.
David Aldridge: He really kind of recruited you as opposed to the other way around right?
Billy King: [nods head in agreement] He did, he did, and you know his agent Jeff Schwartz reached out, and originally I said ‘No.’ I said “No, there’s no way.” Ownership said it, I said “No way.” And then they said “Just meet with him,” and I did, and I’m glad I did.
The most interesting part of all of this is the fact that Kidd was hired a good two weeks before the deal that brought Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn from the Celtics ever materialized.
You have to wonder with the benefit of hindsight if King might have held off on hiring Kidd, in order to see what other experienced head coaches might have had some interest in trying to pilot this now loaded team through the postseason. Guys like George Karl, Lionel Hollins, or even Stan Van Gundy might have been intrigued by the talent assembled on the roster, and for better or worse, they’ve each largely had a track record of success and are generally known commodities.
Brooklyn doesn’t yet know what it has with Kidd, and it’ll be interesting to see how things play out if the team should underachieve and fail to meet expectations under its first-year head coach.