Failed Bid for Power, Dollars Lands Franchise Legend in Milwaukee
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jason Kidd missed the last 17 shots of his surefire Hall of Fame career on the court.
His final, desperation heave for more power – and likely a significant boost in pay – following his first year as the Nets’ head coach sent him from Brooklyn to Milwaukee in less than 48 hours.
''Jason is a determined leader, a tough-minded competitor and a great teammate,'' Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry said in a joint statement after announcing that Kidd would be their new leader for the foreseeable future Tuesday morning.
Kidd, who went directly from the hardwood to the bench after 19 years as one of the best point guards in the history of the game, led the Nets to a 44-38 record during his tumultuous but ultimately successful first full season at the helm.
The Nets posted a 34-19 mark after Jan. 1 and edged Toronto in a thrilling first-round playoff series before bowing out in five games to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.
A two-time Coach of the Month following a horrendous 10-21 start to his tenure, Kidd was doubtlessly miffed by the five-year, $25 million pacts received by fellow head-coaching neophytes Derek Fisher (Knicks) and Steve Kerr (Warriors) this summer.
In his bid to renegotiate a better deal than the four-year, $10 million contract he inked last summer, Kidd also wanted a title that would place him above general manager Billy King in the franchise’s power hierarchy.
In other words, he would be King’s boss rather than it working the other way around.
That request fell on the deaf ears of billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who paved the way for the Nets to tell Kidd not to let the door hit him on his way out of the Barclays Center on the way to Milwaukee’s Bradley Center.
As compensation for the right to negotiate with Kidd, the Bucks sent the Nets a second-round draft pick next year and an additional one in 2019.
All this just months after the Nets held a special ceremony to hang Kidd’s No. 5 jersey from the rafters of the Barclays Center.
"I want to thank Jason. I think he did an amazing job for us last year,” King noted Tuesday morning, taking the high road despite being undermined by the very man he put his faith in last year at this time. “There’s no reason to sling any mud here.”
In fact, there’s plenty.
King hired Kidd over several more experienced candidates last summer, welcoming back arguably the greatest player in the history of the franchise and handing him a starting lineup with five All-Stars, a loaded bench and the largest payroll in the history of the sport.
But Kidd wanted more, and will doubtlessly be getting it beginning next year in Milwaukee, though details of his contract with the Bucks have yet to be revealed.
Despite persistent nudging, King continued to offer only his best in regard to Kidd, a man who played Brutus to his Caesar at the first available offseason opportunity.
“I'm not gonna take shots at him," King insisted. "For the year he worked for us here, he did a hell of a job. … I think he has the ability to be a great coach, and I think he will be."
King, of course, has bigger issues now than taking shots at Kidd.
The Nets GM already admitted that he spoke with former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins over dinner Monday evening and revealed that he would be meeting with Hollins again as this story went to press on Tuesday afternoon.
George Karl and Mark Jackson have also been mentioned as potential candidates, as has Ettore Messina, who coached Prokhorov’s CSKA Moscow club.
"This time, I think we're going to go with experience,” noted King, who is also busy trying to re-sign free agents Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston without a head coach in place.
And in the closest he came to taking a little dig at Kidd, he added: "The franchise has to be bigger than one person."
Nothing But Net: In the midst of all this mayhem, the Nets will begin their Summer League schedule this Saturday. Nets center and 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team selection Mason Plumlee will headline the Nets’ squad. Nets point guards, Marquis Teague and Jorge Gutierrez, as well as 2014 second round draft picks, Markel Brown, Xavier Thames and Cory Jefferson, will also be participating. … Kidd’s only season in Brooklyn resulted in the re-emergence of G Livingston, who may follow his coach to Milwaukee if the Nets are unable to bring him back for a second campaign in our fair borough. … C/F Kevin Garnett told King that he would be back for the $12 million option remaining on the contract the Nets acquired from Boston in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry. That may be the surest sign that the Nets will lock up Pierce for another one- or two-year deal later this week.