Jason Kidd, with that marvelous basketball IQ of his, may one day turn out to be the greatest head coach in NBA history. This isn’t the reason, though, that he’s the absolute best choice for the Brooklyn Nets.
Kidd, who was hired on Wednesday just days after ending his playing career, is the perfect hire for the Nets because he’s the most Brooklyn Nets-y hire the Brooklyn Nets could possibly hope to hire. Outside of signing on Magic Johnson or Justin Bieber’s giant hat to lead the team, Kidd was the biggest name the Nets could go for. And in a remarkable 11-month stint since finishing up the team’s final season in New Jersey, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King have put together a lineup full of massive contracts featuring the biggest names that were available at their particular times.
Of course, they’ll go nowhere, but that isn’t the point. The point is the press conference on Thursday, or the flashing bulbs that will await Kidd’s first home game on basic cable TV next fall. Even if Kidd turns out to be the second coming of Red Auerbach – who ran a 143-82 record coaching with two teams before taking over the Boston Celtics – the focus right now is hiring a big name that can please Mssrs. Prokhorov and King, two basketball minds that have proven to have the patience of a Le Sueur pea over their respective NBA careers.
This is why Brian Shaw, the associate head coach of a team that was by far and away the best defensive squad in the NBA this year while taking the defending champs to a seventh game despite missing former All-Star Danny Granger for most of the season, was dismissed even after a lengthy meeting on Wednesday. The Pacers’ associate coach is a coaching great in waiting, but upon hearing about mutual interest between Shaw and the Nets last month I honestly was disappointed. Why waste a talent like Shaw’s that on a roster like this?
Brooklyn had its moments down the stretch of 2012-13, especially when star guard Deron Williamswas engaged, but the team is set to spend over $86 million next year on a roster that isn’t scaring anyone, even with the Potential Greatest Coach Ever at the helm. The year after that, even after declining four player options, they’ll be at the luxury tax level with just six players on the roster. It’s true that Prokhorov doesn’t mind paying huge luxury tax bills, but his personal income isn’t the concern here. The concern is the flexibility, as tax-paying teams can’t work out sign and trade deals, and are limited in the exceptions they can hand to players to round out the roster.