Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence Frank’

Kidd has come a long way in a few months


VIDEO: Jason Kidd talks with Rachel Nichols about his growth process as an NBA coach

BROOKLYN – Jason Kidd‘s coaching career began a little like his playing career ended.

As a player, he missed his last 18 shots. As a coach, he lost 21 of his first 31 games with the most expensive roster in NBA history. He was fined $50,000 for purposely spilling a drink so that his assistant coach could draw up a play. Through December, the Brooklyn Nets were below-average on both ends of the floor and were particularly brutal defensively.

Early in November, ESPN.com’s David Thorpe called Kidd “the worst coach in the NBA.” Later that month, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck quoted an scout who didn’t think much of Kidd, the coach.

A veteran scout, interviewed earlier in the day and speaking on the condition of anonymity, called Kidd’s bench comportment “terrible,” observing that the play-calling has fallen mostly to his top assistants, Lawrence Frank and John Welch.

“He doesn’t do anything,” said the scout, who has watched the Nets several times. “He doesn’t make calls. John Welch does all the offense. Lawrence does all the defense. … I don’t know what Kidd does. I don’t think you can grade him and say he’s bad. You can give him an incomplete.”

Things have changed quite a bit. The Nets are 27-12 (best in the Eastern Conference) since the new year began, with a top-10 defense, despite a two-game slide this week.

The turnaround coincided with a seemingly sudden lineup change that created a new defensive identity. The Nets went from a bad team on Dec. 31 (when they were thumped by the San Antonio Spurs) to a good one two nights later (when they won in Oklahoma City).

But the players will tell you that they just needed time to get healthy and get to know one another. Deron Williams missed 11 of the team’s first 20 games, Andrei Kirilenko missed 26 of the first 30, and Brook Lopez missed nine of the first 24 before being lost for the season on Dec. 20. The Nets’ projected $82 million starting lineup played a total of 90 minutes together.

So, yeah, they needed some time to hit their stride. So did Kidd.

During the Nets’ episode of Real Training Camp in October, Kidd  was barely heard from. He was mostly on the sidelines as his assistants — like Lawrence Frank here — ran practice.

Kidd should have known when he hired Frank that he would look to take charge. That’s who Frank is. And Kidd, in hindsight, probably could have found a way to tone down his fiery assistant. Instead, as the losing mounted, the two knocked heads and in early December, Kidd kicked him off the bench.

It was a key moment in Kidd’s development as a coach.  Once his lead assistant was gone, he had no choice but to find his own voice.

Finding his way


VIDEO: Go inside the huddle with Jason Kidd during the Nets-Spurs game

“Everybody has to know who’s in charge,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said back in January. “And that’s the head coach. He’s the one calling the shots. I’ve never seen any one of the Pips try to lead. That’s Gladys’ role. Let Gladys be Gladys.”

In Brooklyn, Gladys is singing stronger than ever.

“He wasn’t being involved as much [in training camp],” Kirilenko said of Kidd recently. “He was watching more and observing. Now, he’s involved more and he’s talking more.”

Observing Kidd at one recent shootaround, Nets general manager Billy King said to assistant GM Frank Zanin, “From November to now, it’s night and day. It’s been a joy to watch.”

Kidd will tell you that he and the team grew together, that it took “everybody” to get through those first two months. King believes the improvement started with the coach.

“I think he developed the group,” King told NBA.com, “by spending time talking to individual players and the players as a group. I think he molded them to become a group and be one, rather than be individuals. It comes from sharing the basketball, being accountable.

“And that was him from the beginning. He challenged the guys to share the basketball, to sacrifice for each other.”

After a loss in Boston earlier this month, Kidd looked at the box score and didn’t lament that the Nets shot 4-for-30 from 3-point range, but that their shot distribution was unbalanced. Only four times this season has a Net attempted more than 20 shots in a game, and two of those games went to overtime. Only the Jazz (two) have fewer games of a player taking 20 or more shots. Fourteen teams have 20 or more.

Though five guys are getting paid like stars, it’s a team thing in Brooklyn. Ask Kidd about how a particular player impacted a game and he’d rather talk about the group. Ask him about himself and he probably won’t give you an answer at all (though he did say last week that he never regretted his choice to become a coach just days after retiring).

“We had a lot of long coaches meetings,” he said of his team’s early-season struggles. “We had a lot of long conversations with players. But there was never a panic of, like, ‘Maybe I should have kept playing, maybe we should have went on vacation a little bit longer.’ Sometimes you have to face adversity right off the bat and you get to find out who’s really in and who’s out. And those guys in the locker room are truly in and that’s what makes it special.”

Relying on ‘instincts’


VIDEO: The Starters discuss the Nets improved play

When the Nets were looking for a coach last summer, Kidd told ownership, “We need a leader.” They suggested Kidd and, after an interview, King bought in and sought advice from his college coach.

“Don’t put him in a coaching box,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told King. “Let his instincts take over and he’ll be fine.”

Indeed, there’s probably more Jason Kidd in the coach than coach in Kidd. Or maybe he’s been a coach all along. Those who have watched the New York Knicks the last two seasons would certainly make that argument.

As the best point guard of the last 20 years, Kidd has had his teammates’ respect from Day 1. Now, he’s the closest thing the NBA has had to a player-coach since Dave Cowens in 1979.

“I look at him as the head coach,” Joe Johnson said. “But then I still look at him as a good friend. It’s almost like he’s still a player.”

The respect that players have for Kidd can go a long way. He hasn’t been afraid to bench one or more of his high-priced stars for the entire fourth quarter of a close game. Now that his team has found its identity, he has a feel for what is working and what isn’t.

Orchestrating a successful season


VIDEO: Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck explains the Nets’ path to finding their identity

“From my seat [a few feet away from the bench], I get to see him orchestrate, from offense to defense,” King said. “He’s telling guys where to go and changing plays on the fly.”

And Kidd’s knowledge of what his team needs goes beyond his in-game decisions. Shaun Livingston was his choice for the back-up point guard spot last summer, a decision that has worked out brilliantly. In February, Kidd believed that his team could handle the addition of Jason Collins, and he was right on that one, too.

“The thing that really has struck me is his attention to detail as a rookie coach,” King said, “like player minutes to rotations to sticking with the bench longer than some other people would as a rookie coach. I think he’s managed players’ minutes to try to keep them as fresh as possible. A lot of times, as a rookie coach, they don’t, because they got to keep their best players out there to win that game.”

As a player, Kidd was usually the smartest guy on the floor. As a coach, he’s allowing his basketball mind to flourish.

“There are several teammates who I’ve played with where you can see that they just think the game, and their basketball IQ is off the charts,” Collins said. “J-Kidd was always that way as a teammate. Now, it’s turned into the Xs and Os.”

Kidd knows he still has a long way to go. Asked how comfortable he’s become as a coach, he replied, “I’m still working at it. There’s no comfort level here.”

The playoffs will be another huge test. Given that the Nets, overall, have fallen short of expectations, there are better Coach of the Year candidates. Kidd is still making questionable decisions, like intentionally fouling with the Nets up four points in the final seconds against Toronto earlier this month.

But considering how quickly he has developed and how well he’s recovered from his early growing pains, it’s clear that the Nets have found themselves a winner.

“He’s not going to do something just to be average at it,” King said. “He wants to be great at whatever he does, whether it’s golf, coaching, playing, he wants to be great at it. That’s the approach he took from Day 1 here.”

Back to that early-season criticism of Kidd: When he was hired, there was a consensus among observers that he would need some time to adjust to his new role. In retrospect, that’s exactly what happened in November and December.

Since then? Well, at this point, it would be nice to hear from Beck’s scout again.

“It’s a marathon,” Kidd said. “That’s the nice thing about the NBA season. You can be judged on the first game, but the ones who know best, you’re not judged until the end.”

He was speaking of his team. But he might well have been talking about himself.


VIDEO:
Rod Boone of Newsday talks about the Nets’ recent surge in play

Surprise: Dumars Fires Yet Another Coach


VIDEO: Cheeks is out at Detroit after only eight months

Mo Cheeks, the eighth coach to serve during Joe Dumars‘ run as president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons, lasted eight months before, as multiple media outlets reported and the team eventually confirmed Sunday, getting the ax.

Dumars is in his 14th season, six years removed from Detroit’s last .500-or-better season. And the Pistons’ lone championship on Dumars’ watch (2004) came so long ago, Yao Ming, Latrell Sprewell and Seattle still were in the league and Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and the Charlotte Bobcats weren’t.

That math no longer adds up.

In fact, with the clamor for advanced analytics to measure and dictate every motion and inclination of every player associated with an NBA team’s success or failure, the league is overdue for a concrete rating system for front-office executives. They’re the guys, after all, who are lauded or ripped by a new generation of sportswriter/analyst, depending on how avidly they embrace or eschew such calculations.

Or how ’bout this? A simple ceiling on the number of coaches a GM can hire or fire before it is his head on the chopping block.

Three would seem to be plenty, though four might be a reasonable number as well. If you spot the boss one for clearing the deck after he takes the job – the way Dumars did in 2001, replacing George Irvine with Rick Carlisle – two or three more ought to be enough, after which the scrutiny needs to shift from the sideline to the executive suite.

That would have only gotten Dumars to about the halfway mark in presiding over his personal coaches’ Boot Hill.

After Irvine and Carlisle, Dumars and the Pistons turned to Larry Brown, who did precisely what everyone expected him to do: he got Detroit to The Finals in his first season, steered its ensemble cast to the 2004 championship, then won another 54 games before his AWOL DNA kicked in and he was on the move.

Flip Saunders was brought in and did even better, in terms of victories, going 176-70 in three seasons. But he never had full control of the Pistons’ veteran-laden locker room – thanks, Rasheed Wallace and Rip Hamilton – though Saunders’ non-confrontational style was well-established before Dumars ever hired him. The core of that Detroit team was in decline, anyway, so when Saunders was dumped in 2008, so was its trips to the Eastern Conference finals and, for that matter, days sniffing air above .500.

Saunders at least holds the distinction of lasting longest under Dumars. After him, Michael Curry, John Kuester, Lawrence Frank — and now Cheeks — have followed in rather rapid succession, each staying two years or less.

The Cheeks firing borders on Kim & Kris eye-blink brief, with the added touch that Pistons players apparently learned the news Sunday through media and fan postings on Twitter. Sure, they’re the ones allegedly responsible, underperforming at a 21-29 pace that most experts felt should have been flipped to 29-21 by now. But class is as class does, and while Dumars – always classy as a Hall of Fame player in Detroit – can’t be held responsible for every leak, it does add to the impression that there’s chaos and scapegoating going on in the Motor City.

The Pistons have been in or near the league’s bottom third both offensively and defensively. As of Sunday morning, they were ninth, out of the playoff picture, despite an East standings that from No. 3 down ought to be a land of opportunity. Detroit has been OK within its conference actually (18-14) but a 3-15 mark vs. the West has been killer, as was the Pistons’ 7-15 mark at home halfway through the schedule.

The inability to meld the work of big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, some reported rancor among the players over the rotation and the confrontation/aftermatch between the coach and guard Will Bynum – that’s all on Cheeks. The question, though, of whether 50 games was enough to decide his fate – after successive two-years-and-out terms of Frank and Kuester – was answered by Dumars and owner Tom Gores.

“Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change,” Gores said in a team statement. “We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress.

“The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around. I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach.”

Pinpointing where that approach begins or ends, that’s the challenge. And that’s the area – made up top in jest but maybe a real void in need of filling – to be addressed. There’s got to be a more concrete way of capturing Dumars’ successes and failures.

The talent of which Gores spoke is largely of the individual variety; there’s no one even casually familiar with the NBA who didn’t stack up as many or more “cons” on the right side of Brandon Jennings‘ and Josh Smith‘s ledgers as “pros” on the left. It was, in a sense, a higher risk/reward gamble on “me first” guys than Dumars had perpetrated in 2009 when he splurged on free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to little positive effect.

The Pistons constantly tout their youth – their starting lineup ranks as the NBA’s most tender (23 years and change) – and the fact that their record is best among the league’s four youngest teams. But if that’s something to overcome in the short term, the W-L mark that the kids cobble together seems an odd thing to hold against Cheeks. He didn’t wave a wand and make them young.

More Dumars: Rodney Stuckey was going to be the Pistons’ future until he wasn’t, and only lately has done better in his new zero-expectations world. Then there was the Darko Milicic gaffe, a blown No. 2 pick in 2003 from which the franchise still hasn’t recovered. All while the No. 1 (LeBron James), 3 (Carmelo Anthony), 4 (Chris Bosh) and 5 (Dwyane Wade) picks will be at All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

Gores’ arrival as owner apparently was a reset button for Dumars, because new bosses need basketball people they trust the same as chaotic, distracted owners (the previous Pistons regime). But eight coaches in 14 years and, with whoever takes over on the sideline now, six in eight seasons goes beyond fickle toward feeble.

Even if, in formulating an analytic to apply to the GMs, some allowance gets made for the length of the exec’s reign, Dumars would seem to have exceeded an acceptable average for pink slips. The next one he hands out, he needs to be standing in front of a mirror.

Or better yet, he needs to take over as coach himself and demonstrate that his GM/president knows what he’s doing.

Just 17 Games In, Kidd Doesn’t Want Frank By His Side Anymore

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – When Jason Kidd was hired as the Brooklyn Nets’ new coach in June, he used part of his introductory news conference to recruit Lawrence Frank as his lead assistant. And Frank was eventually given a six-year contract worth $6 million to be the experienced coach to help the rookie learn the ropes.

Now, just 17 games into the pair’s first season in Brooklyn, Frank is off the bench. Kidd announced before the Nets’ game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday that Frank has been “reassigned” and will no longer sit on the bench for games or take part in practices.

It’s the latest twist in what has been an awful start to the Nets’ season. And only time will tell if it has an effect — positive or negative — on the team long-term.

If you watched the Nets’ episode of Real Training Camp in October, you saw and heard Frank running much of the practice. Nets point guard Shaun Livingston told reporters Tuesday that Frank “was obviously a voice, so that’s the hardest part.”

Was he too much of a voice? Kidd said the change was about “different philosophies.” YahooSports.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that this all stems from a conflict at an early-season meeting.

Hours after a blowout loss to the Orlando Magic – Kidd’s first game on the bench following a two-game suspension to start the season – the entire coaching staff witnessed Kidd lose his temper with Frank and escalate a strangely uneasy and brief coaching partnership together.

There had been conversations about moving forward together in recent weeks, league sources said, but the decision to let go of Frank was Kidd’s choice.

Frank was said to be this Nets team’s defensive coordinator. And through Monday, Brooklyn ranked 29th in defensive efficiency. But that was just one of the Nets’ issues. They also ranked in the bottom 10 offensively and they’ve already missed a combined 42 games from their top eight players.

“This is the decision that I had to make,” Kidd said.

When Kidd was hired, it was acknowledged that he would need time to adjust to a much different role than the one he had as a Hall of Fame point guard. So, even though the Nets have been a disaster thus far, it’s a little early for serious criticism. You can’t expect him to be Gregg Popovich (or even Mike Budenholzer) just 17 games into his career.

But Kidd’s inability to coexist with someone who is recognized as a bright basketball mind and a tireless worker will be added to his file. Interestingly, the situation is a little reminiscent of what went down in 2005, when Frank was the Nets’ head coach. The team had hired assistant Gordon Chiesa away from the Jazz, but before the regular season even got started, Chiesa resigned. And it was later reported that he had wanted more responsibility under Frank.

Sometimes, relationships just don’t work out. But these Nets aren’t the ’05-06 Nets, and Kidd and Frank both arrived with much higher profiles than Gordon Chiesa.

These Nets have a $102 million payroll, an $87 million luxury tax bill and, now, a guy they’re paying $6 million not to be an assistant coach. So there should certainly be some scrutiny for the man in charge of bringing out the best in one of the league’s most talented rosters. So far, it ain’t happening.

And after Tuesday, the burden for turning things around is on Kidd’s shoulders more than ever.

Nets Nearing Point Of No Return?




VIDEO: The Beat crew discusses the Nets’ rough start to the season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Humbling is the weight of great expectations, as the men in black and white in Brooklyn have learned through the first month of this NBA season. It’s a lesson their counterparts in Los Angeles, the Lakers, learned in much the same fashion last season. The addition of star power, remembered, real or imagined, does not always translate.

Brooklyn’s Nets are in essence a complete mess right now. A 3-10 record, next to last in the Eastern Conference standings, wounded bodies, pierced pride and nearing the point of no return is where this crew resides heading into tonight’s matchup (7 p.m. ET, League Pass) with a Toronto Raptors team that currently occupies the top-four spot in the Eastern Conference standings that the Nets assumed was theirs.

Without Deron Williams and Brook Lopez healthy, some would argue that it is unfair to grade this team at this juncture. But there are troubling signs with this team regardless of the personnel being deployed, a point made clear by our very own John Schuhmann recently.

Detroit Pistons v Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have struggled mightily in the season’s opening month.

No disrespect to the men at work, but you know things are dire when Shaun Livingston and Mason Plumlee are the only players on your roster who pose a consistent threat to opposing teams with their athleticism, energy and passion. That collection of aged superstars who were supposed to lead this group have, for whatever reasons, not answered the call on a nightly basis.

Take Sunday’s loss to Detroit for example. To start the fourth quarter, Nets coach Jason Kidd a lineup of Plumlee, Tyshawn Taylor, Alan AndersonToko Shengelia and Mirza Teletovic on the floor against Detroit. They trailed by 12 points, due the inept performance, to that point, of the first six who had dug that hole.

Kidd, and his top assistant Lawrence Frank, were desperate to energize a group that has slumbered through this season since that Nov. 1 win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in their home opener.

The idea of Williams, Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Jason Terry terrorizing the league from opening night through the end of the regular season was a pipe dream from the start. But the reality of the Nets’ situation is even more grave than any of their critics might have imagined.

The Nets are last in defensive efficiency, allowing 106.3 points per 100 possessions. With Lopez on the floor they’re much better, ranking sixth defensively, but Lopez has missed five straight games.  And in those five games he’s been out, it’s been a parade for opposing teams. The Nets are allowing 113.1 points per 100 possessions in his absence. Had someone told you the linchpin to the Nets season would be the defensive presence of Lopez, you’d have slapped them.

Yet that is exactly where the team with the worst second-half defensive in the league stands as of right now. And that’s not even factoring in the inevitable locker room fissures that are bound to pop up when a high-profile team encounters these sorts of struggles.

Garnett was supposed to be a culture-changer, the sort of dynamic force that unites a group, even mismatching pieces, into a cohesive unit the way he did in Boston. That obviously hasn’t happened, at least not yet. And there is no guarantee it will. Not with the make-up of this group and the fact that there isn’t someone at the top (in Boston it was coach Doc Rivers) to set the tone and table for a player with Garnett’s reputation and leadership skills to do his thing without any second guessing from within that locker room.

Granted, it would be much easier for others to follow Garnett if Garnett wasn’t struggling through his own Jekyll-and-Hyde routine  — using PIE, Garnett is the league’s fifth-best player in the first half and the league’s worst player in the second half — this season.

Ultimately, the onus for this team and its fortunes rests on the entire group and whether or not they can tread water until they get everyone healthy enough to have a chance to chase the enormous expectations that have been set for them, both internally and beyond.

But we’re getting dangerously close that to that 20-game mark where a team’s true colors show. And the Nets from everything we’ve seen, have not lived up to the hype and quite frankly may not be able to as presently constituted.

Bird Says He And Coach Kidd Ready To Fly

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ORLANDO, Fla.
— If there’s anybody who knows what it’s like to go from a Hall of Fame playing career to having success as a head coach, it’s the guy who was sitting across the gym when Jason Kidd made his debut in the Orlando Pro Summer League with the Nets.

“The transition was pretty easy,” said Larry Bird, who has returned as president of the Pacers after a year away. “You go in there, have a game plan, talk about it and you let them guys help you. You can’t walk in there and think you know it all, because you don’t. I was just fortunate to have two great guys and that made the transition very easy for me.”

When Bird became coach of the Pacers in 1997, he had the veteran Dick Harter and the up and coming Rick Carlisle as his top assistants. Kidd now has Lawrence Frank and Roy Rogers as his right hand men.

“I’m not gonna tell (Kidd) what to do,” Bird said. “He’s got to have his own style. I was fortunate to have very experienced coaches. Rick hadn’t been there yet, but Dick was a head coach.

“He’ll have guys that look up to him and they’ll want some direction and he’s gonna give it to them. I think it’s a great opportunity for him. He’s always been a coach on the floor, but sitting in that one seat is different.

“It’s not as easy as it looks to tell you the truth. I had even more respect for the coaches I had over the years. It’s a tough gig. It’s a lot of hours. It’s tough. It’s grinding. It was easier when you had the ball in your hands and he’ll find that out.

“You see things develop as a coach out there and you say: ‘How did he miss that guy wide open?’ Or you always tell your guys: ‘Push, keep pushing, set a better pick.’ You do it as a coach, but it don’t get through like it does from a teammate, like Magic or myself. But I think he’ll do fine.”

Bird said it was physical ailments that got him to step away from the job for a year, but is rejuvenated and ready to close the gap between the Pacers and Miami. After pushing the Heat to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the expectations for Indiana will be their highest since the team he coached reached the 2001 NBA Finals.

“We like that,” Bird said. “That’s what we play for. We want high expectations. We want to do well and to be at a level where we compete every night.

“We know Chicago’s gonna be better with (Derrick) Rose. Obviously, Brooklyn should be a lot better. Brooklyn beat us every time last year and now they’ve gotten stronger. We’ve got to get better ourselves. We’ve got to get a better bench.

“The Heat’s the Heat. There’s only one winner the last two years, so everyone else is trying to catch them. There’s been a lot of changes throughout the league. Teams are trying to load up.

“Our team did get better. We’re a young team. Lance (Stephenson) got better. Paul George got better. Hopefully we’ll get better enough.”

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.

Report: Kidd In Negotiations With Nets



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Jason Kidd‘s retirement party won’t last another week at this rate. The future Hall of Fame point guard, who announced his retirement from the league last week, is reportedly in negotiations to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Kidd is in line for a three-year deal and has, according to John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer, already an agreement in principle to replace P.J. Carlesimo in Brooklyn. Carlesimo finished the season as the interim replacement for coach Avery Johnson, who once coached Kidd in Dallas.

Nets boss Billy King is going in a radical direction by even pursuing Kidd, whose brilliant playing career included a championship in Dallas in 2011 and back-to-back trips to The Finals with the Nets a decade ago. Kidd’s lack of coaching experience is offset by 19 years of playing in the league, many of those as one of the top point guards in the game.

How Kidd fills his staff out will also be of significant intrigue. A source confirmed to NBA.com this afternoon that former Nets and Detroit Pistons coach Lawrence Frank is expected to be a part of Kidd’s staff, potentially as his lead assistant. Frank coached Kidd from 2003-04 to the trade deadline of the 2007-08 season, when Kidd was dealt to Dallas.

The Nets were considering a long list of candidates for their vacancy, including Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and recently fired Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. Both men remain candidates for the open job with the Los Angeles Clippers. Kidd rising to the top of the Nets’ list in such short order is a development few saw coming, especially on the heels of his retirement announcement last week.

Perhaps the most interesting wrinkle of this entire affair, though, is what impact Kidd’s hiring will have on the current face of the franchise: veteran point guard Deron Williams. An All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, Williams and Kidd already have a relationship from their playing days. How they work together will likely determine the immediate on-court fortunes of the franchise.

Blogtable: Jobs Coaches Want, Don’t

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 26: Coaching vacancies | Best sideline strategists | First-round impressions


Which available spot is most appealing to an out-of-work coach? Least?

Detroit's Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight (by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE)

Detroit’s Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight (by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE)

Steve Aschburner: Detroit. The core of young talent makes the Pistons an attractive jobGreg Monroe put up more double-doubles for Detroit than anyone since Grant Hill, Brandon Knight is so young he still has time to develop better point guard sensibilities and rookies Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond had solid inaugural seasons. Drummond might have been brought along too slowly, so there’s untapped potential right below the surface. The payroll is in good shape, too, with space this summer and guys like Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey entering the final years of their deals.

Fran Blinebury: Geez, it’s closing time at the bar and time to make your pick. Coaches win with the best players and so you’ve got to start there. The best players on the teams with openings were Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and Jrue Holiday in Philly. (I’m assuming we still are counting the Cavs in here in the 24 hours of Mike Brown‘s return.)  Since the Sixers are such a mess and have to figure out what they’re going to do with Andrew Bynum, I’m leaning toward the Cavs as most appealing.  Do you really have to ask about the worst? Charlotte is a black hole inside a smoking ruin wrapped up in a disaster. And Error Jordan is still calling the shots.

Jeff Caplan: Let’s answer the last part first: Charlotte. What a disaster. Hey, what coach would want that gig? There’s only been three coaches in the last three seasons. How’s that for security? Oh, and the collective talent … well, yeah. OK, so there’s a couple ways to look at the most appealing job. The first is that it got snapped up Tuesday with news that Mike Brown is headed back to Cleveland to coach Kyrie Irving and the Cavs’ kids. The other is that the most appealing job isn’t open, yet. Remember, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will make a decision on his return depending on his wife’s health. If he decides it’s best to walk away, then someone will walk into a very well-stocked cupboard. Similarly, Brooklyn will make a decision on interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. If he’s out, someone will get a team that’s maxed-out deep into the luxury tax, but comes with  All-Star level players at point guard and center.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Most appealing of the jobs open at the moment, since others may be coming, is Cleveland (at least until Brown walks through the door). Getting the certainty of Kyrie Irving along with the real promise of a few others is a running start to success for a new guy. Least appealing: Charlotte. A brief moment of hope with Larry Brown has become year after year of instability.

John Schuhmann: I’m going to assume that we’re including Cleveland (and not the three or four additional jobs that may open up in the next few weeks) among our options, because it was available just a few hours ago. And then I’m going to answer Cleveland, because the Cavs have the star player. Every team and every coach wants a star to build around. Mike Brown had it in his first go-round in Cleveland, and he has it now. And this is a team he can improve right away by just getting them to play decent defense, just like he did previously. I also think that Detroit, with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, is pretty appealing. Least appealing? Charlotte, Charlotte and Charlotte.

Sekou Smith: Of the available openings today, the Detroit job shows the most immediate growth potential. You have a veteran general manager in Joe Dumars who remains in place and a young core that includes Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight (he will survive the highlight reel tumult of this season) as building blocks. The Pistons finished this season playing decent basketball under ousted coach Lawrence Frank, so there were signs of life from this group even at the finish of a season that was lottery-bound months ago. That speaks to the mettle of the players. They have to do sound work in the Draft and in free agency, but this a rebuild that is past the foundation process. As for the least appealing, well, there is always Charlotte.

Lang WhitakerMost appealing has to be Cleveland — besides having Anderson Varejao under contract through 2015, you get Kyrie, and having an All-Star point guard already in the fold in the age of the point guard is a decided advantage. Also, seems like Dan Gilbert would be fun to work for, because you know he cares about winning. And I bet he sends out some fiery emails to his staff from time to time. For least appealing I’ll go with Charlotte. Consider that next season, in his third season in the NBA, Kemba Walker will be playing for his third coach. Doesn’t really seem like the organization is setting its guys up to be successful.

Framework Of Brown-Cavs’ Deal In Place

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The framework of a deal that would reunite the Cleveland Cavaliers and their former coach, Mike Brown, is in place, according to league sources, though the two sides do not yet have a contract in place and there are several remaining issues that have to be resolved.

The Cavaliers have moved quickly after firing Byron Scott, who replaced Brown in Cleveland in 2010, last week. Owner Dan Gilbert met with Brown on Sunday for dinner and discussions have quickly picked up steam.

The two sides are still working out the structure of the contract. Brown is looking for a five-year deal; the team is currently offering four years. A fifth-year club option might be a potential compromise. Brown would also have to work out the offset he has with the Lakers, who still owe him $10 million after firing him five games into his second season as coach there.

Brown posted a 272-138 record in five seasons in Cleveland, building a team around LeBron James that got to the NBA Finals in 2007 and won 50 games or more four times. He was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2009. Criticized early in his tenure there for an unimaginative offense, Brown changed much of his offense, giving assistant coach John Kuester broad authority, and the Cavaliers became one of the NBA’s better offenses in Brown’s last two seasons there.

But the Cavaliers failed to reach The Finals in Brown’s last three years, including the 2008-09 season, when Cleveland went 66-16 in the regular season. The following year, the Cavaliers lost in especially ignominious fashion to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Soon afterward, Gilbert decided not to pick up Brown’s option, in what many believed was a desperate attempt to keep James from leaving via free agency. James, of course, did leave, for Miami.

The Akron Beacon-Journal first reported that a deal between the sides were close.

Cleveland’s current management team pushed to go after Brown after Scott’s outster. The Cavaliers were impressed with Brown’s ability to create a defensive structure while evolving on offense, and winning 127 regular season games his last two seasons in Cleveland — a mark that is just as good as James has had in Miami — without the presence of Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

The Cavs may also be moving quickly to keep Brown from the open market.

The Philadelphia 76ers are believed to have an interest in speaking with Brown about their coaching vacancy after Doug Collins announced he would not return as coach next season. The Detroit Pistons need a coach after firing Lawrence Frank last week, as do the Charlotte Bobcats, who fired Mike Dunlap on Tuesday after one season. There may also be openings soon in Brooklyn (P.J. Carlesimo), Milwaukee (Jim Boylan) and Sacramento (Keith Smart).

And speculation has run rampant throughout the league for months that the Atlanta Hawks — whose general manager, Danny Ferry, hired Brown in Cleveland in 2005 — would reach out to Brown at the end of their season. The Hawks’ current coach, Larry Drew, is in the final year of his contract, and the team opted to wait until after the season to decide what to do about his future status.

Morning Shootaround — April 16

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

News of the morning

Noah, Gibson could be on playoff minutes limit | Lawson finding his rhythm | OKC continues to impress | Gores wants accountability for Dumars, Frank | Report: Bobcats name change a ways off

Bulls win, but bigs could be on minutes limit As they’ve done all season, the Bulls continue to stay in the thick of the race for the No. 5 seed in the East — a spot that won’t be decided until likely the season’s final night. Last night’s easy win over the hapless Orlando Magic provided a good sign for the Bulls in that injured big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both got in some playing time after missing games with injuries. But K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports that Noah and Gibson could see a tight minutes limit come playoff time:

A season filled with uncertainty will close with this dose of clarity: The Bulls won’t know their first-round playoff opponent until Wednesday’s season finale.

That’s because the Bulls defeated the hapless Magic 102-84 on Monday night as both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson returned to test their recoveries from injury and coach Tom Thibodeau said it’s “a possibility” both players will be on minutes limits at the start of the posteason.

Noah, who had missed 12 of the previous 13 games with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, finished with six points, five rebounds and four fouls in 14 minutes, 21 seconds off the bench. Gibson, who had missed 17 games recently in two separate bouts with a sprained MCL in his left knee, contributed 12 points and two blocks in 21:13.

“I knew there was a setback right away last time,” Noah said after his last attempt to return April 7 in Detroit. “I feel pretty good right now. I’m just happy my foot held up.”

Noah admitted his wind wasn’t “great” but vowed it would “get better quick.”

Gibson wore the large brace he said he disliked.

“The brace is real protective, but I just have to get used to it,” Gibson said. “It’s kind of heavy. But the knee felt great. The main thing I wanted to do was play some defense because our defense was really awful the last couple games.”

…”We have to be at our best in a short amount of time,” Thibodeau said. “We’re a well-rested team. The question I have is are we a sharp team? We have guys that haven’t played a lot of minutes lately that are going to be called upon to be at their best. The moment of truth will be here shortly.”

Lawson getting back to his old selfShortly after their 15-game win streak ended, the Nuggets were dealt a serious blow to their hopes of a long playoff run when Ty Lawson went down with a foot injury on March 27. Although he missed just five games as he got better, the Nuggets were concerned how much their point guard could play and whether or not he’d be the game-changing playmaker they were used to. Last night’s win in Milwaukee went a long way in proving Lawson is speedily returning to form, though, writes Christopher Dempsy of The Denver Post:

With 14.2 seconds to go and down one at Milwaukee, a game the Nuggets had to have to lock up a top four spot in the Western Conference, Ty Lawson surveyed the court and lofted the ball to Wilson Chandler. Chandler handed the ball back off to Lawson who drove the lane, crossed over the defender, Monta Ellis, rose up and hit a shot that was arguably the most important jumper any Nugget has hit in the last three weeks.

Lawson is back.

His heel is not all the way healed, but that shot suggested his game is.

The degree of difficulty won’t go down as calculus level stuff. It was a 10-ish-foot jumper. But Lawson’s speed and quickness, which was in full display on the play, got him free for an open look. And in the process wiped away – or should have – any of the doubt about what he is and can be in the playoffs.

Initially, Karl said if Lawson could give 20-25 minutes when he returned that he could work with that. And yet Lawson, since returning late last week, has given him so much more.

His arc, since playing on April 12 has looked like this: 13 points; 12 points and 10 assists; and now 26 points and seven assists. After Sunday’s game against Portland, Karl was already gushing: “I couldn’t have asked for a better script these last two games,” he said of his point guard.

Tonight’s game should have erased any other doubts.

Lawson has averaged 17 points, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals in the three games he’s been back. He’s shot 56 percent from the field and 84 percent from the free throw line. Monday night’s game brought back another encouraging sign – his ability to get to the rim and draw fouls.

In the last two weeks there has been enough bad news for the Nuggets, who are just trying to get their roster to survive the remainder of the regular season to get to the playoffs. First, Lawson’s status was in doubt. Then Danilo Gallinari was lost for the season. Then Kenneth Faried went down and can only hope to be close to 100 percent for the start of the playoffs.

It was time for some good news.

Ty Lawson provided it. And with it, may have renewed at least some of the belief that these Nuggets are still headed for a healthy playoff run.

OKC wraps up No. 1 in WestIt is easy to take for granted the success the Thunder have enjoyed all-so-quickly since moving from Seattle before the 2008-09 season. Although the first campaign in Oklahoma saw the Thunder go 23-59, since then it has been nothing but a steady climb for the youthful contenders. Last night, they achieved perhaps their greatest feat since the move, winning their 60th game and wrapping up the top spot in the West. Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman has more on the Thunder’s rise to the top of the conference:

Not only did the Thunder clinch the top spot in the conference, but OKC also won for the 60th time this season, marking the first 60-win season in Oklahoma City’s brief basketball history.

“It’s shows that we’re improving every year,” said Thabo Sefolosha. “It’s a big number. There’s not a lot of teams that can do it, and to be part of that group and just to get to that number is big.”

With a win in the season finale Wednesday against Milwaukee, the Thunder can finish with a .744 winning percentage. Win or lose, though, the Thunder will have increased its winning percentage in each of its first five seasons, from .280 in 2008-09, to .610 in 2009-10, to .671 in 2010-11, to .712 last year. Even with a loss Wednesday, the Thunder would finish with a .732 winning percentage.

“It feels good, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said Kevin Durant of winning 60 games. “We’ve never done it here before so it’s new to us. But it feels good. It shows our progression as a franchise each and every year.”

Gores wants accountability for Dumars, FrankWe haven’t seen or heard much from Tom Gores since he took over ownership of the Pistons in 2011 from the Davidson family. While he has been mostly a quiet owner of the team, he has no doubt been unhappy with the fifth straight season of sub-.500 basketball, the youthful-but-mistake-prone efforts and the roster that is a bit of a mishmash of parts. Gores spoke to the media before the Pistons’ home finale against Philly and was none to pleased with his team, GM Joe Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Speaking with the news media briefly before Monday night’s home finale against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gores said he was serious when he said last season he expected to make the playoffs and is disappointed the franchise didn’t come close.

“I will say I expected better results,” Gores said. “I met with Joe and Lawrence (Sunday) and I let them know that. They’re great guys that know their business, but I’m here assessing everything. My job is to move this franchise forward.”

The Pistons moved to 29-52 on the season following Monday night’s 109-101 victory. The season concludes Wednesday at the Brooklyn Nets, and then the season postmortem will begin.

For Gores, it’s all about accountability. He plans to meet with both Frank and Dumars in the coming days. The Pistons are 54-93 under Frank in two seasons.

“I think both of them, including ownership, has to be accountable for the year,” Gores said. “We have to be accountable for the results of this year. We have a great core of young players, but we have to be accountable.”

“Now I’m very excited about what we have going,” Gores said. “We have a lot of (cap) room. We’ve set ourselves up financially, and basketball operations has set ourselves up, so I’m very excited about the future.

“But I’m not content about how we performed this year.”

Through a series of transactions the last 10 months, the Pistons will have roughly $25 million to spend this summer on free agency or trades. He said the Pistons “are prepared to spend.”

“It’s always important, but it’s magnified this year because we’ve really put ourselves in position to really make moves,” Gores said. We want to win a championship. We want to get into the playoffs and all of things.

“I tell you, Lawrence is a tremendous guy. I’ve gotten to know him over the last couple and he’s tremendous, but I really have to think about what the best thing is.”

Report: Bobcats name change a ways offOn Jan. 24, the New Orleans Hornets officially announced they would be changing their name, colors and logo to that of the Pelicans for next season. It was a move to closer bind the franchise to the New Orleans community and leaves the Hornets moniker, which dates to the franchise’s days in Charlotte, back in the NBA’s hands. Shortly thereafter, chatter (or buzz, if you will) began around the Web and the Charlotte community that the current team there — the Bobcats — should look to reclaim the nickname that was once theirs. A website called BringBackTheBuzz.com is spearheading the charge on the Internet, but the hopes of that group and others who want the Bobcats renamed for next season are looking unlikely. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has more on what it would take to change from the Bobcats to something else:

If the Charlotte Bobcats ask the NBA for a name change, it would be at least 18 months before such a request was implemented.

NBA commissioner-to-be Adam Silver met with the Observer and other print media outlets Monday during a visit to Charlotte. Much of his 20-minute interview addressed the possibility the Bobcats might switch their nickname to “Hornets” now that the New Orleans Hornets are switching to “Pelicans.”

The Bobcats have done some market research but have yet to make a request with the NBA. Silver said he is fine with whatever the Bobcats decide, but that the team’s deliberate approach is the right course.

Silver said this would be a “very expensive process for the team,” so it’s “a weighty process, not just what ‘X’ amount of fans say in an opinion poll.”

Rather, it’s about whether a rebranding would be lucrative enough to justify spending millions on new uniforms, logos and signage.

Since the NBA owns the name “Charlotte Hornets,” plus the teal-and-purple color scheme the team wore in Charlotte and New Orleans, Silver was asked how quickly a new brand could be implemented.

Even with all that working for it, a change from Bobcats to Hornets would take a minimum of 18 months, the deputy commissioner said.

Silver also was asked whether the Benson family, which owns the Pelicans, still controls the Hornets nickname. Silver replied that the Bobcats wouldn’t owe the Pelicans compensation if they took on that name.

ICYMI of the night: Derrick Williams might be the best player in the league at finishing off crazy alley-oops. Here’s another one to add to his stockade of such plays: