Nets Look To Kidd For Another Culture Change

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SAN ANTONIO – The Brooklyn Nets have a great culture outside their arena. Inside their locker room, not so much.

The Nets have talent, starting with three guys — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez — you can run an offense through. That’s three more than a lot of teams in this league have. But their first-round defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bulls made it clear that the Nets lack the character, the drive and the cohesiveness to make the most of that talent.

Enter Jason Kidd, a New York Knicks point guard as of two weeks ago and the Nets’ new coach as of Wednesday evening. There are plenty of questions about such a quick, player-to-coach transition, but Kidd may be just what the Nets need.

There have been three trades over the last 15 seasons that have truly changed the culture of a franchise — moves that not only made a team better at basketball, but made its locker room a completely different environment.

A year and a half ago, the Clippers’ acquired Chris Paul and not only became the best team in L.A., but also a group that finally had it’s head on straight. In 2007, the Boston Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett, who turned them into defensive force and a championship contender.

And in 2001, the New Jersey Nets traded Stephon Marbury for Kidd, who changed them from “Clippers East” to the best team in the East. The future Hall of Famer led them to two straight Finals and six straight playoff appearances. In their 37 years in the NBA, the Nets have reached the conference semifinals just six times. Five of those trips took place in Kidd’s six full seasons with the team.

Kidd obviously played a big role, both on the floor and in the locker room, when the Dallas Mavericks won their only championship in 2011. And his influence on Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks this season was clear to most observers. He has a brilliant basketball mind and the respect of the greatest players in the world, having mentored a lot of them – including Williams – at the 2008 Olympics.

But mentoring players as a teammate and leading them as a coach are two different things. And with the rise of analytics, defenses designed to take away a team’s top options, and offenses that use misdirection to get defenses off balance, coaching in the NBA has never been more complicated.

Kidd will have to learn how to run a practice, put together a game plan, make adjustments on the fly, figure out the best role for every guy on the roster, develop an offense that works for three very different 20-point scorers, and put together a defense that the Nets can rely on when the shots aren’t falling.

That makes Kidd’s staff a critical part of his success or failure. He has pushed for former Nets and Pistons coach Lawrence Frank to be his top assistant, a hire that’s not done yet.

Frank led the Nets to within a few possessions of knocking off the eventual champion Pistons after he took over for Byron Scott in 2004. And in his first two full seasons as the coach, the Nets ranked in the top 10 defensively. But as the roster was stripped of its talent, the Nets regressed on defense.

In 2010-11, Frank was the lead assistant in Boston when they ranked No. 2 defensively, but wasn’t given much to work with in his two seasons in Detroit. While the Nets have three go-to guys offensively, they have plenty of questions on the other end of the floor, where they ranked 19th this season and where they got embarrassed by an undermanned Bulls team in Game 7.

Improved defense starts with buy-in from every guy in the roster. And Kidd’s history as a mentor to the likes of Williams, Anthony and LeBron James indicates that players will buy what he’s selling. In the Nets press release announcing the hire, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said that Kidd has “the fire in the belly we need,” making it clear what the team’s priorities were when it sought a new coach.

When you’re looking to change the culture, you call on the guy who did it before.

24 Comments

  1. R.C. says:

    I’m thinking Kidd has what takes for BK to get to the next level.

  2. joejohnson says:

    Who the heck is Jason kidd???

  3. El Tenedor says:

    Give the Kidd a chance.

  4. Razak says:

    This is a great opportunity for the team to learn a lot from Kidd. I am looking forward to see how Deron will become for this season, maybe a triple double type of PG like Kidd. That will be awesome and exciting for the Nets

  5. jeff says:

    Kidd will make an excellent coach because he was a player and can relate to today’s NBA culture. I believe that he will create an upbeat offense that relates to the players athletic abilities. I would like for Kidd to incorporate the triangle offense along with other offenses that does not make the Nets offense look too predictable. The Nets have players that can adjust and adapt to the triangle offense. Gerald Wallace anf the other players would benefit from the triangle offense. M. Brooks and their other young players are quite talented and need to be more involve in their offense. Blathce should concentrate on rebounding when playing power forward against opposing teams that have big front line. I hope Kidd can teach the Nets to be more unselfish and distribute the ball for easier baskets. The Nets previous offense was centered around Joe Johnson that cause the offense to be stagnated and predictable. I just hope the Kidd create an offense and defense that is too the Nets strength.

  6. As a longtime Hawks fan, it’s really funny for me to see some other team’s fans talk about how Joe Johnson is “weighing them down.” He did it in Atlanta. He plays with such a profound lack of fire that I think it’s contagious.

    • ac says:

      Hahahaha agreed. I always liked him in his younger days because at least he was healthy and more aggressive, but he always looks so apathetic to everything. It was a huge mistake for Atl to give him that deal, but an even bigger mistake for BK to take on his contract with three years left. Especially with the new salary cap regulations kicking in next year, they are screwed.

  7. J says:

    he will make a great coach!

  8. Thomas Wesphaguson says:

    Prokhorov clearly sees the leadership in Kidd or he would not have made the investment. Culturally, he may also see a combination of white and black, and best of both worlds, in addition to Kidd’s age youth advantage over the departed coach, he may have another advantage over that coach’s predecessor in terms of stereotypical orientation and natural inclination of players of certain designations to comply with the requests of coaches of a certain designation. Unfortunately it is a fact in American sports, and in the American system overall since the slave era. Lenny Wilkens led the Washington Bullets and Wes Unseld to the NBA Title.

    • lawl says:

      How do you seriously see this as a race based decision you imbecile…? The previous coach was white. Please know something about what you are saying before you let your ignorant mind say silly things on your keyboard.

  9. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    6th seed here we come!

  10. SixTwoTwoTen says:

    He has a credible team as it stands to be within striking distance. His familiarity with the Knicks can prove beneficial in their battles. His mindset is right as he talks about toughness. I say go convince Garnett to give his last two years to Brooklyn, and It will be Brooklyn/Chicago fighting for the East next May…

  11. Kal says:

    in short, i like it. Kidd was an underrated player. maybe some of that will show in his coaching.

    • dhk says:

      “underrated”??? Seriously? He is considered one of the best PGs of all time. Who underrates him?

  12. ImJusSayin says:

    So P. Gasol that actually directly led to Some rings was not as important? Was the Heat going anywhere without LeBron? please reword it a little better maybe to define bringing up a Cellar dweller but then Garnett wouldn’t quite qualify there either.

  13. SoulChorea says:

    This is weird.

    • sunland85 says:

      yup

    • HEAT says:

      I thought the NETS say they’re in the “Win-now” mode??????? Hiring a practically “player” (since he just got done) to coach a suppose to be “elite” team with mega stars is not a “win-now” mode. It’s called “building-mode”. Like Kidd said, “we’ll grow together” What a waste of money for the next few seasons. By the time they’re ready, they’ll face megastar leaving their teams.

  14. ac says:

    I love J Kidd but this team is screwed if they can’t find a way to move Humphries and Wallace’s contracts. Joe Johnson is weighing them down too but I doubt anybody would take on that deal. Their bench is only going to get weaker this year because they’re sure to lose Blatche.

    • they’re not screwed…their team on paper is really strong…so if kidd can put it together…the nets will be a contender

      • ac says:

        First off, I will never click on your name you weirdo.

        Secondly, its not a question of Kidd’s leadership abilities or whatever. It has to do with inflated contracts given to players who proved throughout this year how mediocre they are. Gerald Wallace averages 7 points/5 boards at 10 million? Kris Humphries averages 6 points/6boards at 12 million? Last but certainly not least, Joe Johnson averages 15/5 at 20 million?

        The sad thing is that next season their best option off the bench is going to be Marshon Brooks doing his best IsoJoe impression, except with far less talent.