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Breaking Down the Jason Kidd Trade and Potential Replacements in Brooklyn

by Photo of Sam Cohen

Why Jason Kidd left NYC and five coaches who could replace him.

Breaking Down the Jason Kidd Trade and Potential Replacements in Brooklyn

In this article…

The NBA has had a pretty crazy week. Miami Heat stars Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade all opted out of their contracts, though it looks like they will ultimately stay in Miami. Carmelo Anthony opted out of his contract as well and has already scheduled meetings with three different teams. The 2014 NBA Draft occurred and it did not disappoint, as there were still big names available in the second round.

There has been no shortage of news-breaking stories these past few days, but none of the stories above made headlines quite like Jason Kidd did. In a shocking turn of events that unfolded in seemingly no time, the Brooklyn Nets traded their head coach Jason Kidd to the Milwaukee Bucks for two second-round picks, one in 2015 and the other in 2019. The agreement, which was finalized this morning, comes less than two days after an article written by Tom Bontemps of the New York Post leaked that Jason Kidd wanted more power in the organization. According to Bontemps, Kidd wanted to oversee the Nets' basketball operations and essentially become general manager Billy King's boss.

After signing a four-year deal worth $10.5 million, Kidd, in his first season as a head coach at any level, led the Nets to a 44-38 season that saw them lose in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He then watched as two former players with no coaching experience, Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher, signed 5-year, $25 million deals. All of this led Kidd to ask Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov for both a raise and more power in the organization. While Prokhorov would have likely listened to Kidd's request for a salary increase, the Russian billionaire and others were seemingly outraged by Kidd's demands to control the organization. Things got so heated that the Bucks were immediately given permission to interview Kidd and the trade was made.

Interestingly, NBA writer Howard Beck tweeted that Kidd is currently serving as the Bucks' head coach only. I firmly believe that Kidd will have some power in Milwaukee from the start before eventually overseeing basketball operations.

The fact that Kidd asked for more money is not too surprising. After an abysmal start to the season, the Nets played well down the stretch and clinched the sixth seed of the playoffs. Additionally, watching Kerr and Fisher receive significantly larger deals than his four-year, $10.5 million deal he signed last year understandably hurt him. He already has a year under his belt and he wasn't a bust. But for him to ask for more power is another issue. Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, and Flip Saunders are all head coaches who had to prove themselves for years before they took on more responsibility in the front office. Jason Kidd has one year of coaching experience and the Nets weren't even nearly as good as they were expected to be.

I understand why Kidd wants more power. Prokhorov seems to think that spending tons of money will lead to championships, a clear misconception in sports these days. Billy King's trade last year in which he sent a bunch of young players as well as three future first-round picks to the Celtics for three rapidly aging players in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry can safely be called a gigantic bust. Kidd believes that he can do a better job than those two men, which is all well and good. But he has no place to ask for more power right now. He has been a coach for one year and still has a lot to learn. He should probably focus on becoming a much better coach than he already is before he decides he is ready to hang out with the big dogs like Popovich and Rivers.

That all being said, the Bucks clearly believe Kidd will soon be able to handle front office responsibilities and we will see if it works out. As for the Nets, let's take a look at a few head coaching replacements.

Lionel Hollins

Hollins is probably the front-runner at this point. He helped make the Memphis Grizzlies a contending team in a conference with so many great teams, winning 56 games two seasons ago and leading the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals. While he didn't coach last season, he is an experienced leader that can get the most out of his players. He would be a good fit for Brooklyn because he runs a slow-tempo offense and Brooklyn has a lot of players that are either old or injury-prone.

George Karl

Another pretty obvious name here. One of the best coaches in NBA history, Karl took a year off after being fired in Denver despite winning 2013 Coach of the Year. NBA insider Chris Haynes tweeted that Karl has significant interest in coaching the Nets and the Nets would do good to at least reach out. Karl, who has 1,131 career wins and 22 playoff appearances, would be a significant upgrade over Kidd for a Nets team that is looking to win as soon as possible.

Mark Jackson

The Brooklyn native would be quite an interesting fit. He isn't the best X's and O's coach and wouldn't have nearly the same talent to work with in Brooklyn as he had in Golden State, but the players would respect the hell out of him and it would be a nice homecoming for Jackson, who is currently serving as an analyst on ESPN. The biggest thing standing in the way of Jackson becoming Brooklyn's next head coach is probably the way in which he left Golden State. While his players loved him, he didn't see eye-to-eye with the owners or front office personnel and it was such an issue that he was fired despite leading the Warriors to two straight playoff appearances. Brooklyn's front office certainly doesn't want another falling out with a coach after Kidd's departure, so Jackson is more of just a name to keep in mind.

Ettore Messina

Chris Broussard of ESPN reported that Ettore Messina, who just left his job as the head coach of CSKA Moscow, is a potential replacement for Kidd. While NBA fans may not know much about Messina, Prokhorov has ties to him since the Nets' owner financially supported CSKA Moscow at one time. Messina has had a lot of success in Euroleague competition, winning four championships. While he doesn't have much of a background in the NBA, Prokhorov will be interested in him and that is enough to make him a serious candidate.

Mike Dunleavy Sr.

It's hard to choose a dark horse candidate since the Nets will surely want a coach with previous head coaching experience and success at a professional level this time around. So while names like Billy Donovan and Kevin Ollie come to mind when thinking of outside-the-box candidates, it is very hard to imagine the Nets going after them. Mike Dunleavy Sr., however, is an under-the-radar candidate to coach in Brooklyn next year.

Dunleavy has been the head coach of four teams during his 17-year coaching career. While his most recent coaching gig with the Clippers ended very poorly, Dunleavy has had a lot of success as a coach, winning NBA Coach of the Year in 1999. He not only has a lot of experience as a head coach but he is also used to coaching in big markets, as he has headed the Lakers and Clippers. He is well-respected among the NBA community and would bring a lot to the table that Jason Kidd failed to bring. While Dunleavy surely isn't at the top of Brooklyn's list right now, Prokhorov is one of the more unpredictable and risky owners in sports and Dunleavy could very well end up as a serious candidate.

Well, this all escalated pretty quickly. It will be interesting to see what Jason Kidd can do with a Bucks team that has talent but is still at least a couple years away from contending. It will also be exciting to see how the Nets' coaching search will play out. All we know right now is that New York City will have two new head coaches, maybe as soon as next week.

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