Jason Kidd must not go...yet.
Firestorms of objection have fallen upon the Brooklyn Nets. The league's newest powerhouse has gone from appointed contender to embarrassing lemon. And we do not approve. Their record, offense and defense—everything. It's horrible.
Outsiders, as always, are now compelled to rationalize the situation. Sense must be made of what's gone wrong. Blame must be distributed accordingly.
Perched atop the list of potential scapegoats is Kidd, the rookie head coach who inherited a roster constructed in the image of championships. He's to blame. Coaches always are. The Nets won't rebound until he's issued walking papers.
Kidd must go.
Dismissing him would be a rash reaction to a small sample size, though. Escorting him from the premises is not the solution and won't solve everything, or even anything.
There may come a time when Kidd must be removed from power, when he must be punished for Brooklyn's ill-fated season, but not yet. Not now.
Breathe. The season isn't over yet; it's only just begun.
With 80 percent of the 2013-14 campaign to go, the Nets haven't capsized. Their ship carrying tremendous amounts of payroll and injured players is taking on water, but it hasn't submerged in an ocean of bedlam. Not yet.
Brooklyn isn't playing in the Western Conference. This is the East. Powerhouses are scarce, not the standard.
Seven games under .500 heading into a Dec. 3 battle against the Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn is 1.5 games off the Atlantic Division lead. Coaches don't get fired when their teams are still very much alive. And make no mistake, the Nets are still very much alive.
Criticize Kidd all you want, but you cannot hold him accountable for injuries.
When the Nets signed Kidd in June, he was promised a healthy Deron Williams and a healthy Brook Lopez. Soon after, he was supposed to have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at his disposal, too. Those four, along with Joe Johnson, made for a feared starting lineup. Think 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, minus the injury woes and utter dysfunction. That's the kind of hype Brooklyn was generating.
Injuries have caught up with the Nets, though. Williams and Lopez have each missed at least seven games and Andrei Kirilenko, the steal of the offseason, has appeared in just four.
That starting five Brooklyn was so excited about and Kidd was promised? Yeah, that hasn't worked out.
According to NBA.com (subscription required), this quintet has played just eight games together and logged a mere 78 minutes alongside one another. On average, that's under 10 minutes a contest.
Kidd cannot work miracles with a roster depleted by persisting ailments. Expecting him to coach this team, this understaffed and wounded team, toward a title is unrealistic.
Had the Nets been at full strength all season and losses continued to mount, stronger cases could be made against Kidd. For now, given what he's had to work with, Kidd is most guilty of failing with a team not healthy enough to succeed.
Brooklyn Asked For This
The Nets asked for this. Every last loss, missed shot and turnover—they asked for them.
Rookie coaches don't typically assume control of teams like the Nets. Brooklyn isn't only a monstrous market, it's a veteran faction. A seasoned ensemble that was expected to contend. And the Nets gave these experienced vets Jason Kidd, a former peer turned authority figure.
Did you think this was going to work? That Kidd would immediately become Phil Jackson?
Grace periods are required for situations like these. If Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wanted a coach who could instantly be held accountable, then he should've asked general manager Billy King to get him one. He should have demanded this complex team be guided by a decorated sideline wanderer, not a recent retiree who barely had his New York Knicks jersey off before accepting the job.
But the Nets went with Kidd and by doing so, they chose this. They were prepared for it, ready to back their newbie through all the growing pains and carbonated beverages gone rogue.
Believe me, the Nets knew their current state was a possibility. Maybe not this dire or extreme, but they knew it. And they sold us on something else.
Surrounding Kidd with an accomplished assistant coaching staff was the selling point. Look, it's Lawrence Frank. He used to coach Kidd; he used to coach winners. Everything was going to be fine.
Kidd has since announced that Frank has been "reassigned," in a move that screams "we don't know what to do":
Firing Kidd now, after the Nets have already allowed him to marginalize the presence of a respected former head coach, would be a public relations nightmare. It would put them in a no-win situation. Even those demanding Kidd's job, the catcallers enraged by Brooklyn's grim start, would be appalled.
In one swift move, the Nets would be the underachieving mess that bilked a legend of the right to prove himself worthy.
Now, That Being Said...
Kidd is not above contempt. The Nets are his team, and he's responsible for what happens on and off the court.
Previously, Bleacher Report's Howard Beck wrote that Kidd's demeanor on the sidelines was coming into question:
A veteran scout, interviewed earlier in the day and speaking on the condition of anonymity, called Kidd’s bench comportment “terrible,” observing that the play-calling has fallen mostly to his top assistants, Lawrence Frank and John Welch.
“He doesn’t do anything,” said the scout, who has watched the Nets several times. “He doesn’t make calls. John Welch does all the offense. Lawrence does all the defense. … I don’t know what Kidd does. I don’t think you can grade him and say he’s bad. You can give him an incomplete.”
Anonymous scouts aren't the only figureheads calling out Kidd, either. Following a meltdown against the Detroit Pistons, Pierce let the Nets coaching staff have it.
"We got to understand teams aren't going to play the same way they did in the first half as they did in the second half because teams make adjustments, especially when they are down," Pierce said, according to CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely. "And we got to realize that and adjust to that."
Adjustments, internal and external perception—that's all on Kidd, now more than ever.
We've spent sufficient time discussing why Kidd cannot be dismissed, when he hasn't even been fired...yet.
The Nets, while in need of patience, cannot be expected to wait around forever. To this point, Kidd has been given an opportunity. Frank's "new" role reveals that much. His reassignment was a power move, definitive evidence reminding us the Nets are Kidd's team and his responsibility.
It doesn't reflect well on Kidd that Frank, who was part of the reason so many believed in Kidd, is now gone. That this union couldn't be salvaged. That his players are questioning his methods.
It doesn't reflect well on Kidd that the Nets rank in the bottom 12 of points scored and allowed and rebounds and assists per game.
With each passing game, Brooklyn's product, however serrated, becomes a more accurate portrayal of the coach Kidd is, or the leader he will never be.
*All stats from this article were compiled from NBA.com (subscriptions required) and are accurate as of Dec. 3, 2013 unless otherwise noted.