When Jason Kidd retired from a 19-year playing career just a matter of weeks ago, I doubt even he expected what was to come next.
Head Coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
Wednesday's announcement sent shockwaves through the Basketball world. The 40 year old has no coaching experience whatsoever, yet he did enough in his interview to convince the Nets that he was the right man to take the franchise forward. He subsequently signed a three-year deal and will start immediately.
Certainly a bold move, very much in-keeping with their new philosophy since their arrival in Brooklyn under Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
There is very much a 'Boom or Bust' element to this hiring. Despite a glorious career in the NBA, which will no doubt make Kidd a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, he has zero coaching experience at any level. Kidd has stated he has been studying for the role for some time, but there is no substitute for experience and many feel this is too large a step for Kidd, who may have been better off taking an assistant coaching job first to learn the ins-and-outs of the game.
However, with big risk comes big reward.
Kidd will have seen this as a golden opportunity to fast-track himself to the top of the NBA coaching ladder. There's no doubt the Brooklyn Nets are a talented group of individuals and were tremendously improved last year, despite a change in coach during the season. They were the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, but were emphatically beaten by a more experienced Chicago Bulls team. Although it was a giant step forward to what the franchise had accomplished in New Jersey as of late, it wasn't deemed sufficient enough for interim coach PJ Carlesimo to be considered for the position, despite his impressive record of 35-19.
A stark warning for Kidd of the Russian owners low tolerance for even the smallest failure.
Other candidates were interviewed, Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw was recently put through his paces and it was rumoured that the Nets were trying to coax Phil Jackson and ESPN Commentator Jeff Van Gundy out of retirement. Instead, they went with Kidd, who demonstrated extreme intelligence during his meeting with Nets General Manager Billy King and Prokhorov. According to sources close to the Nets, Kidd was humble, discussed his philosophy and even drew up specific plays he plans to implement into the offense.
It did the trick, Kidd got his chance.
Now, the hard work can begin.
This, of course, is not the first time with the Nets organisation. Kidd was present during the team's most successful period in their history, leading them to consecutive NBA finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. He transformed the fate of the franchise from a perennial doormat to a Championship contender almost instantly. Much has changed for the Nets since then, they have a Billionaire owner and with rapper Jay-Z's vision, the team moved to the $1 billion Barclays Centre in Brooklyn. The spending didn't stop at the new arena, with bold moves and big contracts leaving the Nets deep in the luxury tax for the foreseeable future. They already have £89 million committed in Salaries next season, with the cap set at around $57 million, Prokhorov will be expected to play some substantial tax, which will be inconsequential to the 58th richest man in the World.
With the money Prokhoron has thrown at the Nets, he is well within his right to see a return on his investment. Jay-Z, who recently sold his minuscule ownership stake, has made the team marketable but it will be up to Kidd and his staff to ensure that the team keep progressing on the court. Their bloated wage bill will mean signings will be difficult, Kidd will have to look at veterans who will play for the minimum in order to try and win a Championship. It is of great benefit to the Nets that Kidd was one of the most respected players in the league prior to his retirement. His presence alone could bring in a couple of key, experienced components the Nets were lacking last season.
If he wants to be successful, he must build around his best player, that being Point Guard Deron Williams. If sources are to be believed, Williams had a huge input in Kidd's appointment. The two are close friends, there was even talk of the two playing together last season. Williams opted to stay in Brooklyn and Kidd signed with the Knicks. Prokhorov will be hoping Kidd's influence and knowledge will bring the best out of Williams, who was inconsistent at times last season. He will have no better role model for guidance than Kidd, who is one of the greatest Point Guards to ever play the position. While Williams may be one of the more polished Point Guard's in the league, his game is likely to improve even more learning from a man who amassed an astonishing 12,091 assists during his career. The Nets can only go as far as Williams will take them, and Kidd must make sure he is playing at the All-Star level he is capable of on a consistent basis.
Kidd must also solve the riddle of Brook Lopez. There's no doubt Lopez has the potential to be one of the best Center's in the NBA, yet there is something about his play that has some doubting just that. He made the All-Star team last year with a 19.4 points per game average, which was pleasing and well-deserved. What will have caused concern is his 6.9 rebounds a game average, nowhere near enough for a man at the heart of the interior. Lopez has been accused of playing soft and is considered a pushover when coming up against some of the bigger, more talented Center's in the league. Kidd was as tough as granite during his playing career, something that he will be looking to install into Lopez's play as soon as possible. He is already very efficient on offense, if Kidd can apply some defensive steel and toughness to his game, the Nets would have some player on their hands.
Objective number one for the Nets and Kidd will be to claim the Atlantic Division title from the grasp of the New York Knicks. The Nets have made great strides in the last 18 months getting a foothold in the New York area. While they may never reach the Knicks' level in terms of popularity and exposure, they showed signs last year that they can surpass them on the court. They split the regular season series 2-2 and with so many ageing players on the Knicks roster you would assume they would regress this year. They will be limited in making chances due to their bloated wage bill, which suggests the Nets could overtake them this season.
How ironic, considering that Kidd bowed out of the NBA as a member of the New York Knicks roster.
The pressure will certainly be on from the very outset, whether Kidd has jumped in too fast or not, only time will tell.
His playing career was the stuff of legend, jumping into management so soon could jeopardise his legacy.
Or enhance it considerably.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_