Just 10 days after announcing his retirement, future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd was introduced as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
Kidd, who played for the Nets from 2001-2008, was introduced on Thursday as the 22nd coach in Nets franchise history.
He is only the fourth person since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976 to become a head coach a season after retiring as an active player.
“We’ve got somebody here who will work his butt off to make sure we go in the right direction,” said Nets general manager Billy King.
The Nets finished their first season in Brooklyn with 49-33 record and earned the four seed in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. They were eliminated by the Chicago Bulls in their first round matchup after a grueling seven game series.
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He is replacing P.J. Carlesimo, who took over for Avery Johnson after he was dismissed as Nets coach in December. Carlesimo, who many believed should have gotten the job full-time after the season, went 35-19 as interim coach.
Kidd knows he has a lot of work to do.
“Yes, I have a lot to learn about coaching,” Kidd said at his introductory press conference.
What does the former point guard expect from his new team in his first head coaching position?
“My message is going to be simple: Understand you have to play hard and you have to play defense. We’re going to grow together, and that’s what’s going to make us special.”
While Kidd has no coaching experience, the major issue he stressed while selling himself was that he can bring in top assistant coaches with NBA head coaching experience. One name that was mentioned, according to Marc Stein of ESPN, is former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, who worked with Kidd in New Jersey from 2003-2008 until Kidd was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Frank was just fired after two subpar seasons with the Detroit Pistons.
One of the major reasons for the hiring of Kidd is his relationship with Nets point guard Deron Williams. Williams, who averaged 18.9 points and 8 assists per game this season, is good friends with Kidd and Brooklyn is hoping their relationship will help Williams be a top guard in the league.
“It starts with your leader,” Kidd said. “Look at Deron. He’s your best player and he’s the one who’s going to relay the message as much as the guys hear me talking.”
Among the question marks for Kidd is character issues from past incidents. He is currently scheduled to appear in court next week on charges relating to a DWI last year. In 2001, he pled guilty to a domestic abuse charge for assaulting his ex-wife Joumana. The couple divorced in 2007 with Kidd accused by his wife of “extreme cruelty” during their marriage. Joumana accused Kidd of other instances of abuse and accused him of” breaking one of her ribs and damaging her hearing after smashing her head into the console of a car.”
With all the questions surrounding his hiring, Thursday was a celebratory day in Brooklyn.
- “When this process started … we were looking for a coach that’s going to have great leadership, help us get to the direction we want to get and get players to compete,” King said. “Jason Kidd embodies everything we were looking for.”