- Sayonara. Au Revoir. Adios. Goodbye. – (SportsNetwork.com) - Sayonara. Au Revoir. Adios. Goodbye.
That's what the Brooklyn Nets told Jason Kidd when he tried to maneuver himself into the front office with absolutely zero executive experience and just one year after his first head coaching stint.
The temerity of this guy, right?
The Milwaukee Bucks were taken by Kidd's audacious request to claim more power in Brooklyn and brought him on board to coach in exchange for two second-round draft picks.
Konnichiwa. Bonjour. Hola. Hello.
That's how the Bucks and their youthful roster greeted the future Hall of Fame point guard, who brings years of basketball knowledge to a struggling franchise.
Kidd was dribbled out of the Big Apple like the ball he mastered for so many years as a player, and performed an admirable job with the Nets, a team he twice led to the NBA Finals and recorded a 44-38 record with as a coach in 2013-14. The Nets defeated the now Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors in seven games in the first round of the playoffs, then bowed out to the East champion Miami Heat in five.
A 5-14 start for Brooklyn had many wondering if the move to hire the inexperienced Kidd as head coach was a wise one. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov probably didn't care because he could "make it rain" with $100 bills at any coaching candidate.
Kidd made some moves with his staff, most notably demoting assistant coach Lawrence Frank to daily reports. Things began to click for the Nets once the calendar turned to 2014 and they rode the momentum all the way to playoffs.
After Kidd's little power move failed, it was time to take on a new challenge and the Bucks are it. Kidd had future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, forward Joe Johnson and guards Deron Williams and Jason Terry to make something happen in Brooklyn. Reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals is no small task and the Nets had the talent to get there. Perhaps if Brook Lopez stayed healthy, Kidd would still work in the 11217 zip code.
Kidd is now a few states over in Wisconsin and the Bucks are a better fit for him because of the youth factor. In Brooklyn, Kidd was coaching guys he competed against and was friends with. That had to be awkward.
He did get some revenge in Milwaukee's 122-118 triple-overtime win in Brooklyn this week. Rookie Jabari Parker had a career-high 23 points and you could see the Bucks wanted this one for their coach.
"I know he wanted it bad, but I think the players wanted it more than he did," Bucks veteran guard O.J. Mayo said about Kidd. "For him to come to Milwaukee and give us hope. We're a good young team and we wanted it for him."
The Bucks, with just two playoff appearances since 2006-07, have few veterans on the roster and are building for the future. Kidd is now the Patrick Swayze or Demi Moore to the Bucks' mold. Parker is Kidd's biggest project, and the No. 2 overall pick in last summer's draft is absorbing every bit of knowledge like a sponge.
Kidd played for several coaches and under many philosophies in his playing career and is trying to instill every vital piece of information he has into his own craft. Pick-and-roll attacks, 3-point shooting and a fast-paced offense are strategies Kidd is using in Milwaukee. The half-court offense can slow any team down. Kidd can coach that, too.
The Bucks will succeed with crisp ball movement and a strong focus on finding the open man. Predictability on offense is something the Bucks are trying to shake and they have several players who can, and will, take the final shot. Leading scorer Brandon Knight (17.9 ppg), exciting youngster Giannis Antetokounmpo (12.3 ppg), Mayo (11.9 ppg) and Parker (11.8 ppg) are Kidd's options to have the ball in their hands when the game's on the line.
It's amazing how Parker and Antetokounmpo have already earned the trust from the staff as teenagers. When I was 19, trying to grow facial hair, tailgating at Beaver Stadium and long nights in the Pattee Library occupied my time.
So far the fairly young Bucks are second in the Central Division with a 7-5 record, one game behind the Chicago Bulls and just ahead of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sitting ahead of LeBron after 12 games and having the worst record in the league last season is a win in my book.
Defense was a part of Kidd's game when he played. With more than 2,600 steals in his career, Kidd knew how to run an offense in transition. Milwaukee is one of top defensive units and is allowing 96.4 points per game. That's how much they're scoring on offense, so there's a need for improvement there. Imagine what the offense would look like if center Larry Sanders upped his game.
Knight, Antetokounmpo, Mayo and Parker are the core four of offense.
It's not a guarantee Kidd can wave his magical basketball wand and the Bucks will transform into a playoff contender. Nobody expects that in Milwaukee anyway because Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have the area abuzz.
But the Bucks, winners of three straight and five of the last six games, will exceed last season's win total of 15 easily, and that could happen before Christmas.
The Bucks made a smart move in taking Kidd off Brooklyn's hands. All they have to do now is watch the maturing process of this eager and exciting roster.