Coaching Power Play: The Jason Kidd Saga

30
Jun

What happens when a power play doesn’t work? In most areas of professional life, you’ve played your cards and then you get minimized at best and simply fired at worst. Jason Kidd, after one mildly successful year as a head coach, demanded the full control role that the likes of Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers have.

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov would have none of it, and boy did that escalate quickly.1

What precipitated this need for power by Kidd? Coming from someone that has zero inside information but enjoys the use of logic, it was likely the new popularity of recent players getting head coaching jobs… at a salary higher than his $2,500,000.

You can view all NBA head coaching contracts and salary on our salary page.

Once the former point guard took a perceived slight in this situation and played his cards and failed, the relationship was broken and ownership decided to move in a new direction. Instead of just firing Kidd and losing the war by still paying his salary for the next couple years while he gets to move on, they traded him. Again. This time to the Milwaukee Bucks. ((I love using Adrian Wojnarowski as a source, it is one I trust, but credit should be given to Tim Bontemps for breaking the story))

The trade of their coach to the Bucks nets the Nets with two second round picks, one in 2015 and one in 2019.2 Compare that to his value as a player when the then-New Jersey Nets traded Kidd for five players and two first round picks.3 It seems almost comical that the Nets have traded for Kidd once, traded him away as a player once and finally traded him away as a head coach.

One of the most interesting parts of this saga was the fact that Milwaukee had a head coach throughout this whole process in Larry Drew. After hiring him last year, the Bucks management4 decided to go after a new coach, while still retaining the rights to their current one. Considered a major faux pas in NBA circles. This will create an interesting relationship for Kidd with the rest of his newish coaching fraternity.

Now that Kidd is officially heading to Milwaukee,5 what will his role be and what might he bring?

Unfortunately for the young head coach, it doesn’t look like his power play worked with the Nets or the Bucks as he’s slated solely for a head coaching role.

That doesn’t necessarily make this the wrong move in this specific sense as Kidd is now leaving an aged, salary cap strapped and asset barren franchise for a struggling, small market, promise-laden one.

However, with new ownership that knows Kidd and a propensity for new owners to bring in new people to run things, I would be looking over my shoulder if I were current GM John Hammond. Many believe that it won’t be long before Kidd makes another power play or that he may already have been promised full control in the near future.

Kidd had a tumultuous start to his career as a head coach. There were growing pains on and off the court, but in the end he proved to be a capable leader on the bench. Second round picks, while having more value than most anticipate because of their contracts, are mostly shots in the dark and won’t likely be missed much by the Bucks.

I’m not sure that Kidd brings much to the table as either a head coach or a full power man to set him apart from the average. But, I’m the type that believes the best of the best coaches move the needle a lot but mid-level coaches and lower are all fairly similar in terms of impact. Can Kidd, as a coach, reach the level of success he reached as a player? The answer to that will answer if Kidd is worth the headache he seems to create.


  1. No one says it better than Ron 

  2. Specifics of trade per Adrian Wojnarowski 

  3. Kidd traded with Malik Allen and Antoine Wright to Dallas for Maurice Auger, DeSagana Diop, Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell, Keith Van Horn, 2008 first rounder (Ryan Anderson) and 2010 first rounder (Jordan Crawford) – per BasketballReference 

  4. The Bucks are under new ownership remember 

  5. Let Alice Cooper show you the proper pronunciation 

About the author: Colby Rogers

Colby is the Editor-in-Chief, Founder and Lead Contributor to Other League. Also a law student focusing on Labor & Employment law and intersections with law and sports. You can find him on Twitter via @Colby_OL.