Several of us at the Observer got an interview with Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan in October. One of my editors asked this question first: What have you learned in two-plus seasons as a majority owner?
Jordan said he’s learned it’s essential to quickly admit and correct mistakes within the organization. He mentioned that as much as he liked Mike Dunlap, it wasn’t going to work with Dunlap coaching, so he was fired one season in.
I think the Brooklyn Nets have the same issue with Jason Kidd. Maybe they shouldn’t wait until the end of this season.
Yes, I know Deron Williams and Paul Pierce are hurt and Brook Lopez was hurt. I also know a team at or near the top of the NBA payroll standings shouldn’t be trailing the cross-town New York Knicks by 30 or more at home at Barclays Center. Thursday was a colossal disaster on national television and TNT’s cameras were constantly trained on Nets general manager (and former Duke defensive star) Billy King.
Most nights it’s not a good thing when TV is so interested in close-ups of the player-personnel guy. King re-signed Williams, gave the now-departed Gerald Wallace a massive contract extension and made the trade for aging veterans Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Then he either decided or at least signed off on the hiring of Kidd as coach months after Kidd chose to end his playing career. Nothing about Kidd’s short tenure suggests the arrow is pointing up.
There’s nothing generically wrong with hiring a rookie head coach. There are nine of them this season in the NBA. But Kidd has no previous NBA coaching experience. Even that isn’t insurmountable, as Larry Bird once proved with the Indiana Pacers.
If you have the right kind of past-player gravitas, this model is viable. Bird surrounded himself with top assistants Dick Harter on defense and Rick Carlisle on offense. He inspired and pushed, while Harter and Carlisle X’d and O’d.
So the Nets propped up Kidd with a coach he once played for, coincidentally in the Nets organization: Lawrence Frank. They had such a falling-out that Frank no longer sits on the Nets bench.
Ask yourself: You want Kidd drawing up a play or Frank? Kidd shouldn’t just be a figurehead, but there should have been a way to make this work. Perhaps that speaks to Kidd not being far enough removed from his playing career that he grasps the more nuanced role a coach must play.
It’s a mess. To paraphrase what Jordan says he learned, making Kidd a write-off now, rather than later, might be decisive rather than panicky.
Five thoughts on the NBA and the Bobcats: