One of the biggest questions about the Brooklyn Nets next year is how their rookie coach Jason Kidd will manage the team. It’s a fair question, after all, this team clearly has championship aspirations — does it really make sense to go with a rookie coach?
It’s been questioned at length for much of this offseason, but ESPN’s David Thorpe seems to think it looms larger than most. In an insiders only article for ESPN he pondered the question — Does Kidd have any clue?
On paper, the Nets should be better than they were last season, and Brook Lopez appears poised to become an elite center. But based on Kidd’s performance this summer, he still must learn the basics of coaching. We can look to Golden State coach Mark Jackson, who found his voice in his second year, as an example of someone who figured things out quickly.
However, it appears Kidd has a more significant learning curve. Coaching a summer game with a cell phone (turned on, no less) in your pocket is almost the worst mistake a coach can make. Answering it is the worst. Well, although he wasn’t coaching the game (assistant Eric Hughes was) when he did both, it still was surprising he would do that on the bench. There are numerous other nuances Kidd will have to learn, but he is fortunate in one respect: He has a brilliant set of players — basketball IQ-wise — to work with.
Realistically, it’s impossible to know the answer to that question until the season starts. Even then it’s going to take quite a while to properly evaluate him. One thing though is that I think it’s a little unfair to blast him for answering his phone during the summer league game.
For one thing, it wasn’t just any phone call Kidd was taking. He was answering a call from general manager Billy King, who was calling to tell him that the Nets had just landed Andrei Kirilenko. Not only was the move a big deal, especially since they had to get Kirilenko to agree to take significantly less money to play in Brooklyn, but it was also a recruiting process that Kidd was personally and heavily involved with.
So it may be that Kidd ends up a terrible coach. He might be a great coach. We’re not going to know for a while and blasting him for taking an important phone call from his boss, when his boss knew fair well that he was in the middle of a game, isn’t a knock against him in my book. If he did that during a regular season game, or even a preseason game, that’s a different story altogether.
It’s a legit question — can Kidd coach — we’ll have to find out the answer in a trial by fire because summer league games aren’t going to shed any light into it. He’ll be well prepare though because not only was he a smart player, but he’s surrounded by a ton of coaching experience on the bench.