COMMENTARY | Future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd is attempting to make a very quick transition from player to head coach in the NBA.
Does that mean Kidd is already on the hot seat entering his first season with the Brooklyn Nets?
Given that owner Mikhail Prokhorov has committed to spending approximately 3 gazillion dollars in luxury-tax penalties for 2013-14 (OK, so it's actually roughly $87 million, but, still, that's a lot of money), that would seem to ratchet up expectations for the Nets and Kidd into at least low Earth orbit.
And general manager Billy King has pulled the pin quickly on a brand-new head coach once before.
When King was with the Philadelphia 76ers as GM, he hired former Ohio State coach Randy Ayers after Larry Brown left in 2003. Ayers made it 52 games, posted a record of 21-31 and was jettisoned in favor of assistant coach (and longtime NBA head coach) Chris Ford for the remainder of the season.
Kidd had Lawrence Frank (a longtime NBA head coach) as his lead assistant heading into the 2013-14 campaign. So the script appears to be familiar, even if the results may not be.
But there are some key differences:
· Ayers never played in the league and he took over an established team led by superstar Allen Iverson, sorta-star Glenn Robinson, a point guard in Eric Snow who would never be confused as one of the game's elite, and a bunch of ill-fitting role players.
· Kidd played for 19 seasons as a point guard and de-facto on-floor coach, retired in June as one of the most respected players ever to wear a uniform, played in three NBA Finals, won a ring and picked up a couple of Olympic gold medals along the way. In other words, he was one of the most elite point guards ever.
Granted, Kidd played against everyone on his roster save for rookie Mason Plumlee what seems like only a couple of days ago, but that's where the respect factor comes in. It is going to be much easier for Kidd to win over the locker room than it would be for a coach that none of these players had ever heard of.
And it won't hurt that Kidd is getting to take over a bunch of talent that scores off the charts in the "been there, done that" category.
New acquisitions Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry will dazzle the locker room with their championship bling. The projected starting lineup has 35 All-Star game appearances between them. Another one of the new faces, Andrei Kirilenko, took a well-below-market-value contract (plus half of Russia, if the whining from other NBA owners is to be believed) to be in Brooklyn because he felt it would give him a chance to chase that elusive title ring.
And Kirilenko signed up after Kidd was hired to coach the team. Does a 30-something with a rapidly closing window on his career make that decision if he doesn't think there's some potential magic in the air?
That's not to say Kidd doesn't have some daunting challenges in front of him. The game plan is now his to create rather than simply execute. He's got to manage a lot of egos, egos belonging to a starting unit that, at one point or another (besides Brook Lopez), have been the alpha dog on their respective team.
That means that Kidd, who was always seen as a leader on whatever team he was playing for, will need to be the leader of the Nets and he'll have to do that by making a quick transition from being one of the guys to being the man in charge of the guys.
Is Jason Kidd on the hot seat? Not really.
Let's just say it's warmer than it normally is for a first-year head coach.
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the Brooklyn Nets, New York Yankees and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of brewers101.com and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
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