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Jason Kidd's whirlwind hiring as "first Brooklyn Nets head coach" mostly saluted, but questions linger (though not about off-the-court issues)

Partly it's a bet that great leadership from a player can translate into great leadership--and winning--as a coach. Partly it's a bold p.r. move, winning over fans and many press representatives, some of whom began their questions at a press conference yesterday with congratulations to Jason Kidd.

It's also an effort to ensure higher ratings on cable TV. And a way to tweak the long-established New York Knicks.

Those are among the story lines that surfaced after the Nets announced former star point guard--and most recently Knick--Jason Kidd as their new coach. And maybe, as one writer suggests, hiring a same-old coach rather than a newbie like Kidd would have also been a gamble.

A three-day timeline

As Stefan Bondy wrote in the New York Daily News:
If you believe the narrative from the Nets and Kidd, the point guard decided over the weekend he wanted to coach the Nets, pitched a perfect meeting with King on Monday, and became the chosen candidate on Wednesday night.
It reads like a ludicrous time line, but King insisted Kidd’s hiring had nothing to do with marketing or bringing in a sexy name. It was all about basketball, King said, and part of the GM’s faith is rooted in Kidd’s ability to restructure the offense.
That, of course, is easier said than done. Dave D'Alessandro wrote in the Star-Ledger:
Yes, everyone knows the name of the Coach-In-Training. He is the charismatic fellow with the shiny pate and the million-watt smile, and he has marvelous potential.
But it would be in everyone’s best interests to identify the person who will teach him how to run a camp and prepare a game plan, how to handle an obstinate player and an obnoxious agent, and we have yet to meet that guy -- assuming it’s a guy.
We do not know the de facto coach, and this is kind of important.
One of the most skeptical views came from Steve Lichtenstein of CBS, who called it a "lazy panic move intended to temporarily dominate the back pages."

Nets are all-in

But, to use a (CEO Brett) Yormarkism, the Nets are all-in, for now. "Hello Coach! J. Kidd Back Where He Belongs," read the digital signage.

The team's Gary Sussman introduced Kidd as the 18th head coach of the Nets "and the first Brooklyn Nets head coach," which is a bit of airbrushing, given that two different coaches--holdover Avery Johnson and interim P.J. Carlesimo--ran the team for the first season in Brooklyn.

General Manager Billy King, who calls owner Mikhail Prokhorov "Mikhail" (rather than Yormark's "Michael"), stated, "We really wanted to resemble Brooklyn, somebody that plays hard, and teaches hard, to guys that play hard, and Jason Kidd embodied everything that we were looking for."

And off the court?

Kidd, of course, also embodies some questionable off-the-court behavior, and none of the press at the public, webcast press conference chose to publicly piss off King or the coach. The Post's Fred Kerber did write:
The Nets brass grilled Jason Kidd not only about what he foresees on the court for his new team, but also about his lifestyle off the court. Kidd faces a hearing in Southampton Town Court Thursday on charges stemming from his DWI arrest last July.
“I won’t go too far because it’s a legal matter, but we talked about it,” said general manager Billy King at Kidd’s introductory press conference yesterday. “I felt comfortable where things stand. I spoke to his attorney so it’s a legal matter and it will be resolved. I’ll address whatever happens after that.”
King was pressed on whether he received any assurances from Kidd on his private life.
“We talked about everything,” King said.
Kidd could get a year in jail, but that's unlikely. No articles I saw on a quick scan mentioned Kidd's 2001 arrest (and conviction, in a plea deal) for abuse of his then-wife, Joumana, or their bitter, accusation-trading divorce.

A new home for JKidd

Harvey Araton of the New York Times, who in November 2005 wrote approvingly of Kidd's reputational and personal rehab via the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn--will Kidd go back?-- didn't address off-the-court issues but acknowledged the new coach faced challenges:
Kidd also promised to diversify the Nets’ offense by not having [star point guard Deron] Williams bring the ball up on every possession. That’s a nice thought, but Williams is the only Net holdover with Kidd-like court vision. Kidd will soon discover that those skills are not transferable, or teachable.
Between the lines, Kidd over 19 years was always the ultimate team player. Outside the lines, he could be an operator of the highest order. But as a rookie coach, Kidd should at least be as appreciative as he is hardworking. With two coaches fired in the last six months, King has gone out on what could be a very rickety limb for Kidd, who five years ago wanted no part of the Nets in any location.
Dwelling on that experience, he began to say something unflattering about “East Rutherford,” but caught himself, changed direction and praised Bruce Ratner, the former owner he once couldn’t get far enough away from, for his vision as builder of the arena in Brooklyn.
The team, for better or worse, is also built, with a couple of aging, untradable players. Kidd must know he is not stepping into a low-pressure, learning-curve situation, given Prokhorov’s expectations of title contention.
Indeed, when asked about the new arena, location, and look of the team, Kidd stated, "I think it's incredible. East Rutherford, I don't think--nothing against E. Rutherford, but this is beautiful. You talk about Bruce Ratner's vision, to be able to see this way before anybody else, and to get the team here to Brooklyn....You couldn't have a better place to have an NBA team."

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