Hiring Jason Kidd was a huge gamble for the Brooklyn Nets, but it's one that could turn their franchise point guard back into an All-Star and return his reputation back to what it was a few years ago.
In the span of the past two seasons, Deron Williams has played under three different coaches (Kidd will be his fourth), his presence uncomfortably near the center of controversy surrounding two of their dismissals.
He and Jerry Sloan feuded just before Sloan decided to retire in the middle of the season back in 2011, and there were rumors swirling earlier this season that Williams knowingly quit on Avery Johnson before he was fired.
While there's not a flurry of evidence, it's been enough to get people whispering that Williams might be a bit of a coach killer—that he realized his power over the franchise and used it to get what he wants, as far as the man on the sidelines is concerned.
It would seem that in Kidd, Williams totally got what he wanted. Of course, that's not to say Williams forced Brooklyn to sign the guy who was playing against him just a few months ago.
He was my favorite player growing up. So I had a chance to watch him play growing up and try to emulate him when I was playing against him, playing with him. Now I’m being coached by him. It’s funny how things work out.
Williams seemed convinced that Kidd would make a fine head coach, given the way he's played over the past few seasons. Not only that, he reasoned that Kidd would be around for an extended stay:
I think when you look around the league and you see kind of what Shaq said with the recycled coaches, that doesn’t always work, either. I think it’s a risk by taking Jay. Nobody knows if he’s going to be a great coach. It’s going to take him a couple years to adjust. But at the same time, he could be a great coach off the bat. It’s a risk, but I think it’s somebody we can grow with. I think it’s somebody we’re definitely going to respect and listen to. And I’m excited about the ways he’s going to help me as a player and a leader.
What remains to be seen is whether or not Kidd will be the kind of coach who demands respect from his players, or if he's going to attempt to be friendly with guys he has played against, possibly dating all the way back to 1995 if Jerry Stackhouse sticks around.
It's not that he's too young to be a head coach—he seems to be right around the age that teams are targeting these days (Frank Vogel and Jacque Vaughn are actually both younger than Kidd). Rather, it's that Kidd has never been a head coach. Sure, he's given orders and counsel as a player, but he's never suited up and taken on the role of a real authority.
How will his players react when he's demanding something of them? And how will they react when he does that when the team is struggling?
All that seems to rely on what type of coach Kidd turns out to be, how he handles himself in a position of power.
For now, Williams seems fine with the idea of Kidd getting on his case and yelling at him when the time comes, but that could definitely change if the record starts to go south in Brooklyn, the way it did under Avery Johnson.
I think he’s my coach, so he’s going to have to yell at me, he’s going to have to let me know when I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do. I don’t take it personal. He’s about winning, and I am, too. And that’s all that matters.
Will Jason Kidd and Deron Williams work well together?
Kidd and Williams seem to hold each other in a positive light, which is definitely a good position to start out from as a head coach, but Kidd has no history as a coach.
Things could work out fine for Kidd, but there are many variables that remain, such as who will make up the rest of the coaching staff (NBA Insider Ken Berger reports the Nets are considering adding former head coach Lawrence Frank).
He surely could be the coach to turn around Williams' production and his reputation, but most of that depends on the success of the Nets, not necessarily the relationship between these two as individuals.