5 Coaches Who Would Do a Better Job Than Jason Kidd for Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn’s management, spearheaded by audacious owner Mikhail Prokhorov, is unlikely to send Kidd packing just about a third of the way through the season. The Nets brazenly invested far too much money, confidence and pride in the rookie coach over the summer to call it quits this early.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Kidd is losing support from the locker room after such a poor start to the season, but made no mention of any backing, or lack thereof, from the team's ownership.
While Kidd's departure is unlikely—at least this early in the season—that doesn’t mean we can’t think about potential candidates more fit for Brooklyn’s coaching job.
The following rankings are based on coaches' prior experience, superstar management (that means you, Deron Williams) and suitability with the Nets roster.
Let’s do some window shopping, shall we?
All stats are accurate as of Dec. 31, courtesy of Basketball Reference.
5. Vinny Del Negro
Career record: 210-181
At 47 years of age, Vinny Del Negro would be considered young by NBA coaching standards.
But despite his youth, Del Negro already has five years of coaching experience. Although he racked up 56 wins and earned the Pacific Division title, both franchise records, with L.A. last season, Del Negro was let go amidst reports that he lost the Clips’ locker room during the playoffs.
Vinny D. is young, experienced and hungry for a new opportunity on the sidelines. His pass-heavy scheme (the Clips dished out nearly 24 dimes a game last season to rank fourth in the league) would ignite life into an often-stagnant Brooklyn offense.
4. Jeff Van Gundy
Career record: 430-318
One of the best basketball minds in the game, Jeff Van Gundy could do wonders for the Nets.
According to Basketball Reference, JVG is the second-best defensive coach in NBA history, second only to Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. He finished with a winning record in each of his seasons at the helm, whether it was the Knicks or the Rockets, and took New York to the NBA Finals in 1999.
The strong-willed Van Gundy is experienced enough to command attention from Brooklyn’s vet-heavy roster, yet shrewd enough to adapt and thrive in the modern NBA.
Down the road, perhaps after serving under a coach like JVG as an assistant, Jason Kidd could become as effective from the coach's box as he was running the point.
But right now, Brooklyn needs an established veteran like Van Gundy in order to get back on track after a nightmare start to the 2013-14 season.
3. Lionel Hollins
Career record: 214-201
History: Seven seasons with the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies
When a team breaks the franchise record for wins while making its first conference championship appearance, a head coaching change usually occurs, right?
Unfortunately for Lionel Hollins, who led the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals last season, that’s what happened. It was a questionable move by the new ownership group in Memphis, one that hasn’t paid off thus far.
Under Hollins, the Grizzlies finished 2012-13 with arguably the best defense in the NBA, surrendering a league-low 89.3 points per game. Under new coach Dave Joerger, Memphis currently sits at the bottom of the Southwest Division, allowing 97.3 points a night.
In a recent interview with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, Hollins made mention of certain qualities of last year's Grizzlies that sound extremely similar to what the 2013-14 Nets desperately need:
"My identity was tied to the team's identity," Hollins said of his defensive-minded, slow-paced, "grit-grind" teams in Memphis. "But the only things I'd like to be tied to were that they were tough, they were aggressive, and they never quit."
While not as accomplished as some of the other coaches that we’re dealing with, Hollins is perhaps the most ready to step in immediately. He’s looking for a place to institute the same tough, gritty style of play that resulted in a conference championship last year.
Brooklyn would be an ideal place.
2. Phil Jackson
Career record: 1155-485
History: Nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers
Every basketball team under the sun would welcome Phil Jackson to their sideline with open arms.
Far and away the greatest coach in NBA history, Jackson has won an unparalleled 11 championships over the course of his 20-year career.
Back in May, Jackson told ESPN’s Dan Patrick that the Nets’ head coaching position, later filled by Kidd, was an intriguing offer and noted that “Brooklyn is in a good situation.”
Oh, how times have changed.
Declining support from the locker room and an avalanche of losses have thrust the Nets into a place far, far away from being in a “good situation.” And that’s why Jackson—a master of star management (Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, anyone?) team philosophy and, most importantly, winning—could turn BKN’s train wreck of a season around.
Jackson had more rings in 20 seasons than Kidd had wins through the first 30 games of the season (10). He'd serve as a savior to Brooklyn’s early-season woes.
However, there’s another coach whose potential value to the Nets matches what Jackson could bring to the table.
1. P.J. Carlesimo
Career record: 239-315
History: Three seasons with Portland Trailblazers, three with the Golden State Warriors, two with the Oklahoma City Thunder/Seattle Supersonics, and one with the Brooklyn Nets
Put down your pitchforks, everyone. Before you call for my head, give me a chance to explain why the great Phil Jackson does not top this list.
Is P.J. Carlesimo a better overall coach than the Zen Master? No. Is it close? Nope.
The reason why Carlesimo would match Jackson’s potential contribution to the Nets is his familiarity with the team, mainly Deron Williams.
Brooklyn inexplicably parted ways with the nine-year journeyman coach after he went 35-19 in relief of Avery Johnson, who had begun the season at the helm. Carlesimo had the Nets clicking on all cylinders last season while getting a consistent effort on defense from each member of the roster.
Before his firing, which occurred the day after BKN’s first-round loss to the Chicago Bulls, ESPN New York’s Mike Mazzeo reported that D-Will wanted Carlesimo back on the sidelines this season.
With everything that went on this season, we had a lot of turmoil and he kind of inherited us. And I think he did a great job of leading us and getting us that fourth seed. I'd love to see him back, but as you know, that's not up to me.
Brook Lopez, out for the year with a broken foot, echoed Williams’ sentiments while adding that “a lot of players bought into what he was preaching.”
That’s the key—the Nets listened to Carlesimo, who didn’t have to go through the trials and tribulations presented to every rookie coach.
Carlesimo is available should a vacancy be opened on the Nets sidelines, and is the best candidate to turn around Brooklyn’s season.