After a failed power play in Brooklyn, Nets coach Jason Kidd has entered into serious negotiations to become president of basketball operations for the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Kidd made a failed coup to Brooklyn's Russian ownership to usurp the power of Nets general manager Billy King – and failed spectacularly. The Nets and Bucks are discussing compensation for Milwaukee hiring Kidd away, which will likely include second-round draft picks, sources told Yahoo Sports.
"The Russians are done with Kidd," one high-ranking league source told Yahoo Sports on Saturday night.
Former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins – who had been considered as an early season replacement for a foundering Kidd – is a strong early candidate to be hired as coach should Kidd leave, sources said.
The New York Post first reported the failed power play and talks with Bucks.
Kidd is selling Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry on giving him a lucrative package to do what the Nets have refused: Give Kidd full control of basketball operations. For an NBA figure with such a damaged personal reputation – never mind no front-office experience – the possibility of Kidd being afforded this kind of power and responsibility is being met with downright mockery among NBA owners and executives.
It is a humiliating turn of events for the coach and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who had wielded incredible power and influence with Nets billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Nevertheless, Kidd understood he had an admirer on the hook with one of the Bucks' new ownership partners, Lasry. Kidd has had a personal and financial partnership with Lasry, and now he's leveraging that relationship into talks to run the Bucks franchise, sources said.
Kidd isn't angling to immediately take over as president and coach, sources said, but is intrigued with the higher-paying, lower-workload life of an top executive, sources said.
For Milwaukee's general manager John Hammond and coach Larry Drew, revelations of the franchise's negotiations with Kidd weren't known to them until the story broke on Saturday night, sources said.
Kidd's thirst for more power and money began to escalate with Golden State's and New York's hirings of Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher, respectively, as coaches, league sources said. Kidd was livid they were paid contracts substantially higher than what the Nets paid Kidd as a rookie coach.
"That got him – especially Fisher," one official told Yahoo Sports.
Kidd was hired for three years, $10.5 million, only to be livid over Kerr and Fisher getting four-year deals guaranteeing more than $4 million dollars per season. Lost on Kidd was this: His dicey history made him unappealing as a coach, except with the Nets.
Despite Kidd's greatness as a Hall of Fame point guard, he had a long career of clashing with front-office executives and coaches, a domestic abuse charge and a DWI guilty plea that left him suspended for his first two games as an NBA head coach. Kidd had little leverage upon his hiring as coach, which is why the Nets refused to overpay him market value.
Within management, there was strong consideration given to firing Kidd near the end of December, league sources said. Some Nets officials wanted to bring Hollins into Brooklyn as head coach, but ultimately ownership decided to stay the course with Kidd, sources said. For Kidd's part in the power play, there's a sense of betrayal within ownership that'll make his return beyond difficult, bordering on the impossible, sources said.
After all, the Nets hired Kidd upon his retirement as a player and delivered him a star-studded roster with the steepest payroll in NBA history – $100 million, plus $90 million more in luxury tax. They had listened to Kidd plead with them to make Lawrence Frank the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA, only to have Kidd inexplicably demand that Frank be demoted within weeks of the start of the season.
Management hated the idea, and believed Frank had done the job they'd hired him to do, but played along with the demotion like it was a unified decision. Only, it wasn't – it was all Kidd, "all his insecurities and need to place blame," one source said.
For a short time in November, Kidd had declared he would pay the balance of Frank's six-year, $6 million-plus deal out of his own pocket – only to backtrack quickly, sources said. Ownership let Kidd have his way and demote Frank, and ultimately has been left to pay the balance of Frank's contract.
For a time, the franchise's faith was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in January and February that pushed the Nets into the playoffs and ultimately to an Eastern Conference first-round victory over Toronto. Brooklyn lost to Miami in the conference semifinals, but ownership had been thrilled with Kidd's progress as a young coach, sources said.
Management had met with Kidd often this offseason, working with him on roster changes that appealed to him in free agency and trades, league sources said. Throughout his history, Kidd has seldom had graceful exits – out of Dallas and Phoenix, out of New Jersey and Dallas again, and finally New York. There have often been hard feelings and acrimony necessitating a move, or the cause of him forcing his way out.
Before the Nets traded Kidd to Dallas in 2008, franchise officials believed he had faked a migraine headache and missed a game against the New York Knicks. Within the NBA community, there was little surprise about the apparent Shakespearean ending to Kidd's brief, but tumultuous coaching tenure with the Nets.
The coup failed, and Kidd appears to be on his way once again.