Report: Jason Kidd is Bucks’ de facto general manager

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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.

Timberwolves win first road game in 52 days, top Heat (video)

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MIAMI — Jordan McLaughlin’s layup with just under nine seconds left put Minnesota ahead for good, D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and the Timberwolves added to Miami’s late-season stagger by beating the Heat 129-126 on Wednesday night.

Malik Beasley scored 21 points, Juancho Hernangomez tied a season-high with 17 and McLaughlin added 13 for Minnesota. The Timberwolves were down by 12 with 3:59 left, then closed on a 20-5 run to get just their second victory in 20 games.

Jimmy Butler’s two free throws with 13.8 seconds left put Miami up 126-125, but McLaughlin’s layup on the next Minnesota possession put the Timberwolves on top to stay. Butler’s layup with 3.2 seconds left got blocked by Russell, and the Wolves held on.

Minnesota snapped a nine-game road losing streak, getting its first road victory since beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 5.

Kendrick Nunn led Miami with 24 points. Bam Adebayo had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Butler — back after a two-game absence for personal reasons — had 18 for Miami. The Heat fell to 23-4 at home and have dropped seven of their last nine overall.

The Heat stayed a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Philadelphia lost in Cleveland earlier Wednesday, a game where 76ers star Joel Embiid departed early because of a shoulder injury.

The Heat have had major trouble closing games of late — a 22-point lead late in the third quarter against Cleveland on Monday was frittered away in what probably was the worst loss of the season, until now anyway — and a long film session and meeting on Tuesday clearly didn’t solve the issue.

They were up 121-109 with 3:59 left, and 123-112 after a layup by Butler 24 seconds later.

And Minnesota — a team that came into the night with one win in a span of 48 days — still wasn’t finished off. The Timberwolves scored the next 11 points to tie the game, getting five of those points from Beasley and a tying free throw from McLaughlin with 46 seconds left.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Minnesota’s 27 attempts from 3-point range in the first two quarters was a first-half franchise record. … The Wolves are 4-0 in road games against Southeast Division teams this season, and 6-19 in all other road contests.

Heat: Adebayo played through a sprained right ankle, pushing his consecutive-game streak to 144 — extending the fourth-longest such streak in team history. … Goran Dragic’s first basket was a 3-pointer, and that pushed him one point past Grant Long (5,473) for 10th on the Heat career scoring list. … Nunn got his third consecutive rookie of the month trophy in a brief halftime ceremony.

JOHNSON RETURNS

Wednesday marked James Johnson’s first game back in Miami since the trade that sent him to Minnesota earlier this month, a move that sent Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill to Miami from Memphis. “I think Minnesota is seeing what kind of versatility he can bring to the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

LOOKING AHEAD

A large contingent of fans from Slovenia were in attendance Wednesday — and more are coming Friday, when the Heat play host to the Dallas Mavericks. At last season’s Dallas-at-Miami game, more than 2,000 Slovenians were in attendance to watch their nation’s two best NBA players, Dragic and Dallas star Luka Doncic, go head-to-head.

UP NEXT

Timberwolves: At Orlando on Friday night.

Heat: Host Dallas on Friday night.

Trae Young blocks 7-foot Mo Bamba at rim (video)

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Trae Young might be the NBA’s worst defender.

He’s small (6-foot-1 with a 6-foot-3 wingspan). His athleticism is far from imposing. He also carries a massive load for the Hawks offensively, leaving little energy for defense.

But he still blocked 7-foot Magic center Mo Bamba at the rim.

Not a great moment for Bamba.

Joel Embiid leaves 76ers game with shoulder injury (video)

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Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons?

The debate has gained attention this season after the 76ers spent years retooling around their stars. The answer clearly isn’t neither. But that’s what Philadelphia now faces.

With Simmons already injured, Embiid got hurt in the 76ers’ game against the Cavaliers tonight.

Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Losing Embiid for an extended period would be a huge blow to Philadelphia, especially with Simmons already out. The 76ers (fifth place, half a game out of fourth) are right on the edge of getting home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Embiid had been playing so well lately. This is an especially tough time for a setback.

At least Philadelphia has depth to cope. Al Horford can easily slide from power forward to center. Tobias Harris might be better off at power forward than small forward, anyway. This is where Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks, acquired just before the trade deadline, come in handy as additional wing options. Kyle O'Quinn can also play behind Horford.

But the loss of talent is the biggest development, and there’s no overcoming that until Embiid and Simmons get healthy.

Zach LaVine: Trash talk directed at Dennis Schroder, not Bulls coach Jim Boylen

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During the Bulls’ loss to the Thunder yesterday, Zach LaVine appeared to say, “I have f—ing 40 points!”

Many assumed LaVine was snapping at Chicago coach Jim Boylen. But LaVine clarified his target was Oklahoma City guard Dennis Schroder.

Eric Woodyard of ESPN:

I take LaVine at his word.

Want to make a case LaVine dislikes Boylen? You’ll just have to point to all the other evidence.