I like the idea of Jason Kidd becoming an NBA head coach just days after finishing his 19-year, sure-fire Hall of Fame playing career. The Nets signed him as their guy in June, and only two other men—Mike Dunleavy and Paul Silas—have become head coaches in the League the season after they stopped playing. So it’s an unusual but intriguing venture.
We don’t know exactly who will be on the Nets roster come November, but it seems fairly certain new-old men Kevin Garnett (37) and Paul Pierce (36 by then), the former Celtics Champs acquired in a trade on Draft night, will be there, as will All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Kidd played against all of them, of course, and it’s for sure he knows Garnett and Pierce are consummate pros, as is still-improving Nets center Brook Lopez. Played against him, too.
But the key factor is Williams, 29, a cipher who is seen by critics as the man who drove Jerry Sloan, Avery Johnson and PJ Carlesimo out of head coaching jobs. Kidd was a point guard, too. Will be forever. And that could bring either intense frustration as he tries to teach Williams about leading, or great satisfaction as his guidance turns Williams into the man who pulls the Nets toward the title.
Former great athletes often have problems tolerating the lesser skills and drive of players who will never be their equal. I am reminded of Magic Johnson’s brief foray into coaching, with the Lakers, an experiment that ended after 16 games and five wins.
Kidd retired as a 10-time All-Star, nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team member, and the man with the third most triple-doubles in NBA history. He saw the floor the way a hawk sees pigeons. But by last year, with his 6-point, 3.3 assist per game average for the Knicks, he was a magician without tricks, ready for the next step.
“I’m a rookie,’’ Kidd said as he returned to the Nets, for whom he played seven seasons. We’ll see if he’s got rookie genius or rookie confusion as a coach. I’d like to see genius. We don’t have enough Einsteins.