Jason Kidd turns his attention to Bucks after Nets power play fails


(Michael Perez / AP)

All that’s keeping Jason Kidd from making one of the more shocking moves in an NBA offseason that has been filled with surprises is a pick in next year’s draft.

If the Brooklyn Nets agree to give up their coach for a 2015 draft pick, Kidd will be free to join the Milwaukee Bucks, leaving the Nets after one tumultuous season. First, the Nets and Bucks have to agree on whether compensation will involve a first- or second-round pick.

“The only thing [the Bucks] would give them is a second-round pick,” an unnamed source told ESPN’s Andy Katz reported. “They want a first. In the next 24 hours, there will either be a deal or there won’t be a deal.”

Just what role Kidd would have is not yet clear, although JSonline.com, reports that he has been offered a coaching position rather than one in the front office. What is in the move for Kidd? He’d abandon a $200 million roster to join a young Bucks team and work with Marc Lasray, one of the team’s new owners and a good friend. He’d have a better chance of getting the kind of power he couldn’t seize from Billy King under owner Mikhail Prokhorov. And, of course, there’s money, as ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor writes, pointing out that the Nets end up looking as dysfunctional as always while the Bucks roll the dice.

Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher scored five-year contracts with the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks that dwarfed Kidd’s $10.5 million deal over four years (including $7.5 million guaranteed) with the Brooklyn Nets. Suddenly Kidd decided the time was right to execute a hard back-door cut on King, just like the hard back-door cuts he’d made on his coaches in the past.

A man of many excesses, Prokhorov finally said enough was enough. He wasn’t about to promote Kidd to run basketball operations, and he wasn’t about to stop him from fast-breaking it to Milwaukee, where coach Larry Drew and GM John Hammond still have no idea what just hit them.

Maybe Kidd will end up only as Milwaukee’s team president, banking more money for less work. “But I can see Jason waiting until the Bucks are good enough, and then coaching them,” said a second league source.

Either way, history says it won’t end well in Milwaukee. As a college and pro player Kidd had a record of helping to run off coaches, including the one who led the Nets to those Finals: Byron Scott. His domestic abuse case cost him his job in Phoenix. Rod Thorn, then president of the Nets, made the deal with the Suns and restored his career, and as a show of appreciation, Kidd ultimately demanded a trade to the Lakers and forced his way to Dallas, even calling in sick (as a show of protest, Nets officials believed) for a game against the Knicks. He would be arrested on a drunken-driving charge after signing with those Knicks in 2012, and then suspended for his first two games as Nets coach last season after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in the case.

Kidd had an up-and-down season with the Nets, nearly getting fired over a dismal start and embarrassing the team with his “oops, I spilled my soda” incident before taking them to the playoffs. His Milwaukee maneuver caught everyone off-guard, even given that this is Jason Kidd we’re talking about. The New York Times’ Scott Cacciola and Andrew Keh reminded everyone just how much better the crosstown team looks.

It was a bizarre turn of events, in no small part because there had been no obvious signs of turmoil within the Nets — at least, not in recent weeks. In fact, Kidd participated Thursday in an event where plans were unveiled for the team’s new practice complex in Brooklyn. He talked at length about his ideas for next season (with the Nets, it should be noted) and praised the organization as “first class.” The team picked up three second-round picks in Thursday night’s draft, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

By Sunday, Kidd appeared to be on his way out after one up-and-down season coaching the team — a strange situation made even stranger in the way it elevated the crosstown Knicks into a model of relative equanimity. Sure, the Knicks have their own challenges, namely the impending free agency of Carmelo Anthony. But the potential departure of Kidd comes at a delicate time for the Nets, who have several players — including Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson — who can explore free agency starting Tuesday.

Now, Kidd is heading for the exits again — and doing so less than gracefully. From Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

Before the Nets traded Kidd to Dallas in 2008, franchise officials believed he had faked a migraine headache and missed a game against the New York Knicks. Within the NBA community, there was little surprise about the apparent Shakespearean ending to Kidd’s brief, but tumultuous coaching tenure with the Nets.

The coup failed, and Kidd appears to be on his way once again.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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