Report: If Nets don’t turn around, Kidd likely gone by All-Star Game

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The Nets first mistake was hiring a coach with no experience — a guy who was going to need a learning curve — and putting him in charge of a veteran team with a one-year (two at best) title window. There was no margin for error.

Yet everything has gone wrong. It started with injuries — Deron Williams through training camp into the start of the season, now Brook Lopez for the rest of the season — and has spiraled thanks to the 27th ranked defense in the NBA.

It’s a mess. The Nets are 9-19 heading into the weekend and it’s hard to see how Jason Kidd is going to pull them out of it.

Which could cost him his job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Here’s the question management is grappling with: Does Brooklyn start unloading its star players and stay the course with the coach, or unload the coach and let someone else coach these star players?

The loss of center Brook Lopez doesn’t deliver Kidd the guarantee of surviving his first season as coach. Whatever the dismal Atlantic Division standings say about the Nets trailing first place by only three games, Kidd won’t reach the All-Star break without restoring order to his team.

The report says that as things have gotten worse Kidd has isolated himself in the organization, away from management and the players. That’s not good.

Struggling teams need a lot of structure and very defined roles for players, which helps them turn things around and start to gain confidence. That isn’t happening in Brooklyn, Wojnarowski reports.

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.

The report gets into Lawrence Frank being let go, I’m not going to beat that dead horse again. Suffice to say, with Frank gone Kidd doesn’t have a scapegoat anymore.

The bottom line is the bottom line — Mikhail Prokhorov is paying $190 million for this team and he isn’t getting the contender he wanted. He’s not even getting a playoff team as of right now. If you’re spending that kind of money, you want your money’s worth.

If you’re not getting it, you demand changes. That should worry Kidd.

That said, if Kidd is fired GM Billy King and Prokhorov’s ownership group need to step to the podium at the press conference and accept the responsibility for the mistakes they made with this hire and roster construction. We’ll see if they would be willing to do that.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.