Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd has been suspended two games for pleading guilty to driving while his abilities were impaired, the NBA announced Friday morning.
Kidd was arrested in the early hours of July 15, 2012 — mere days after signing a contract to become the newest member of the New York Knicks — on suspicion of drunk driving after crashing his 2010 Cadillac Escalade into a wooden telephone pole near his Long Island, N.Y., home. Earlier this summer, after retiring from the NBA and becoming the Nets' new head coach, Kidd pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge, but was able to secure a deal that allowed for a change in the official charge:
The 40-year-old was placed on interim probation pending his appearance at two Suffolk County schools regarding the dangers of drunken driving. After he speaks, News 12 Long Island reported that Kidd will be allowed to change his plea to driving while impaired, a lesser charge. His driver's license remains suspended.
Kidd's suspension will begin at the start of the regular season, meaning he will miss Brooklyn's Oct. 30 season opener on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets' nationally televised Nov. 1 home opener against the defending champion Miami Heat. Assistant coach Lawrence Frank — who has 652 games of NBA head coaching experience under his belt, most recently with the Detroit Pistons — is considered Kidd's likely replacement during the suspension.
Kidd's first regular-season game as the head coach of the Nets will come on Nov. 3, when Brooklyn travels south to take on the Orlando Magic. He will be eligible to coach in the preseason, however, which is when the Nets will retire the No. 5 that Kidd wore while starring for the New Jersey version of the franchise from 2001 through 2008.
"The decision is consistent with what the league has done in the past and we look forward to Jason leading our team versus Orlando and the rest of the year," Nets general manager Billy King said in a team statement issued Friday.
Indeed, the two-game suspension falls in line with NBA precedent governing similar circumstances, as Nate Taylor of the New York Times wrote in discussing Kidd's plea agreement back in July:
In 2007, Sacramento Kings Coach Eric Musselman was barred for two games after pleading no contest to driving under the influence. Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers’ owner, was also suspended for two games — and barred from attending his team’s games — after being found guilty of a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge in 2007.
As a member of the Miami Heat, Dorell Wright was suspended two games in 2010 for a similar offense, as was Jason Richardson in 2009 when he was with the Detroit Pistons. There are other examples as well.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence back in August, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges and the league has made no statement about potential disciplinary action as a result of the arrest.