Report: Jason Kidd is Bucks’ de facto general manager

4 Comments

When the Bucks hired Jason Kidd as head coach before last season, speculation immediately turned to whether he’d take control of the front office. After all, he had just attempted a power play to become the Nets’ president.

But the Bucks insisted they hired him only as coach.

With Kidd out due to hip surgery, that claim is getting revisited.

Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj:

Jason Kidd has left the team for apparently six weeks to two months to have hip surgery. A lot of people around the league and people I talked to in the aftermath of this wonder, given Kidd’s penchant in the past to bail on things when they get difficult – could this be the beginning of Kidd’s escape hatch to maybe just moving up to a full-time role in the front office, whether he finishes up coaching this year and then tries to move up next year?

He goes to Milwaukee with the title of head coach, but since the day Jason has arrived there, he’s been in charge of personnel. That’s not a secret.

Drafts Rashad Vaughn when I know that the front office there would’ve liked Bobby Portis

They’re in the process of identifying some potential GM-in-waiting candidates to eventually work with John Hammond and Jason Kidd.

How do long do they entrust Jason Kidd with the future of this organization. Will they allow him here just to move into a complete front-office and maybe hire his own coach?

John Hammond is the Bucks’ official general manager, and they extended his contract through next season. That wouldn’t preclude a change, though. And it sounds as if, regardless of Kidd’s title, Milwaukee wants Hammond to groom his replacement.

As for Kidd, the Bucks have a shaky record of transactions since hiring him. Trading Brandon Knight at last season’s trade deadline wasn’t necessary a mistake, but I’d rather have the top-three-protected Lakers pick that went to the 76ers in the three-way deal than Michael-Carter Williams. A first-round pick was a massive overpay for Greivis Vasquez on an expiring contract, and Milwaukee also included a second-rounder in the trade with the Raptors. Dumping Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova made sense if Kidd was willing to get younger and take a possible step back in the short term, but his reliance on Jerryd Bayless and O.J. Mayo suggests otherwise. Even smaller moves – like waiving the younger Nate Wolters to sign over-the-hill Kenyon Martin, a former Kidd teammate – look suspect.

And there’s drafting Rashad Vaughn over Bobby Portis with the No. 17 pick last year. Vaughn is represented by Jeff Schwartz – the agent who came under fire for counting both Kidd and players as clients. While Portis is pushing for more playing time in a crowded Bulls frontcourt, Vaughn is struggling to find his footing (though it’s far too early to cast final judgments on the rookies).

Kidd’s relationship with Schwartz also has positives for the Bucks. Another Schwartz client, Khris Middleton, surprisingly re-sign for less than a max contract with the Bucks. Add Kidd luring David Falk client Greg Monroe to Milwaukee, and it appears Kidd deserves credit for successfully selling his vision to free agents.

Still, Kidd’s connection to Schwartz should concern the organization (not to mention Schwartz clients – why did Middleton accept less than the max so quickly?). In addition to Vaughn, Schwartz represents current Bucks Carter-Williams, Bayless and Tyler Ennis.

But whatever reservations Bucks owners – including Kidd’s friend, Marc Lasry – had about empowering Kidd, it appears they’ve already gotten past them.

All Cedric Maxwell got for winning NBA Finals MVP was this janky watch (video)

Leave a comment

Just two NBA Finals MVPs who are eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame haven’t been selected for induction:

  • Cedric Maxwell (1981 Celtics)
  • Chauncey Billups (2004 Pistons)

Andre Iguodala (2015 Warriors) could join them, but he at least has some Hall of Fame chatter surrounding him. Billups is absolutely a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate, even if not enshrined.

Maxwell, on the other hand, wasn’t on that level. He never even made an All-Star team. He was just a good player who had an excellent six games against the Rockets in the 1981 NBA Finals.

Really, it’s a neat distinction to be the lone NBA Finals MVP who was never a star. Maxwell can cherish that.

And this watch, which he reveals in this entertaining video.

NBPA reaching out to players, getting feedback on return scenarios

Michele Roberts
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been in information gathering mode since the day he was forced to shut the league down. He’s gathered information from medical experts on how a return would work, talked to owners and GMs about the financial end and what they hope to see, and had conferences with the league’s broadcast partners.

Most of all, Silver wanted to know what the players thought. With the NBA closing in on a return strategy — Friday Silver and team owners will have a conference call that could lead to a decisive plan — players’ union executive director Michele Roberts is taking the return plans to the players for feedback, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It looks like the NBA will return to play in Orlando, with training camps starting in late June and games in mid-July.

The questions to be answered are:

• Do all 30 teams report to Orlando to play a handful of regular season games, getting teams over the 70 game threshold?
• Do just the top 16 teams report with the league jumping straight to the playoffs?
• If the league does go straight to the playoffs, how will that impact player pay, which is tied to the regular season?
• Will there be a play-in tournament for the final playoff seeds?
Should the NBA do a 1-16 seed playoff format, or keep the traditional Eastern/Western conference format?
• Will each playoff round have seven games, or will the first round (or two) be best-of-five?

Everything option is still on the table (as officials will be quick to say). However, the buzz around the league has grown louder that just the top 16 teams will go to Florida, and there will be seven-game series for every round, as the league tries to squelch any asterisk talk.

We may know a lot more on Friday. And the players will have their say.

Michael Jordan on tape saying he wouldn’t play on Dream Team with Isiah Thomas

Pistons guard Isiah Thomas and Bulls guard Michael Jordan
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

In “The Last Dance,” Michael Jordan was asked to react to Isiah Thomas’ explanation of the Pistons’ infamous walk-off. Jordan replied immediately:

I know it’s all bulls—. Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. He’s had time enough to think about it. Or the reaction of the public, that’s kind of changed his perspective of it. You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a—hole.

Maybe there was some projection in that answer.

For years, Jordan has denied any involvement in Thomas not making the Dream Team. Rod Thorn, who was on the selection committee for the 1992 Olympics, has backed Jordan’s version of events.

But Jordan once revealed a different story.

Jordan on Jack McCallum’s “The Dream Team Tapes:”

Rod Thorn called me. I said, “Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.” He assured me. He said, “You know what? Chuck doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.”

Yes, the Pistons were being poor sports when they left the floor without shaking the Bulls’ hands in the 1991 playoffs. But that neither began nor ended the story.

The Bulls repeatedly disrespected the Pistons while finally overcoming Detroit. That particularly bothered the Pistons, because, on their way up, they paid deference to to the Celtics and Lakers. So, while the walk-off was – even according to Thomas – regrettable, it happened for a reason.

Jordan carrying his vendetta to the Dream Team only escalated matters. Yet, unlike the Pistons for not shaking hands, Jordan receives minimal scorn for his poor sportsmanship. Threatening not to play if a rival player is also included is the antithesis of what people want the Olympics to stand for.

And Jordan is now on published audio admitting that’s exactly what he did. You can listen to him for yourself.

As the best player and marketing giant, Jordan had the power. Thomas felt the consequences.

In 1992, Thomas was a marginal choice for the Dream Team. He wasn’t clearly better than the players who made it on current ability. He wasn’t as great as the players – Magic Johnson and Larry Bird – who made it on career accomplishments. It would’ve been fine to select Thomas. It would have been fine to omit him.

But it’s a shame he never got proper consideration on merit.

It’s also a shame Dream Team coach Chuck Daly, who coached Thomas in Detroit, is no longer alive to give his account. Did Dally really tell Thorn not to put Thomas on the Olympic team? Did Thorn really tell that to Jordan? Jordan and Thorn are just so untrustworthy on this matter.

Kendrick Perkins: LeBron James-Paul Pierce rift stems from Pierce spitting at Cavaliers bench

Leave a comment

In 2004, Celtics forward Paul Pierce got fined for spitting at the Cavaliers bench during a preseason game.

Why did Pierce do that?

Apparently, LeBron James.

Kendrick Perkins, via ESPN:

When LeBron was coming into the league, he was getting a lot of heat from players. “Oh he’s not going to do that to us. The Chosen One. Wait til he play against grown men.”

So, Paul is talking noise to the bench, right? He’s talking big noise to the Cavs bench. And they’re sitting over there. Bron and them, they’re all sitting over there.

Paul actually spits over there at the bench, right? The ultimate disrespect, OK?

It ended up turning up. After the game, both teams were meeting in the back. Guys was ready to fight. We had to hold people back. It went up from there.

Ever since that moment, LeBron James and Paul Pierce hate each other. They don’t speak to each other.

This was entering LeBron’s second season, not his rookie year. But Pierce was still the established star, LeBron the riser trying to prove himself. As we’ve seen since, Pierce is very protective of his place in the game.

The feud deepened over the years as Pierce’s Celtics battled LeBron’s Cavaliers and Heat in the playoffs. Pierce took other shots at LeBron, even indirectly. Most recently, Pierce named a top-five list that didn’t include LeBron.

But spitting? That’s low.

There’s just something about Boston players from that era.