Less experienced coaches are better suited with young teams, and the same goes for more tenured coaches with veteran rosters. Mark Jackson’s Golden State Warriors and Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs are vivid examples in the modern NBA.
Last season, Kidd was defending Deron Williams. This season, he’s instructing him. It was unwise of Mikhail Prokhorov to give Kidd a head coaching job nine days after he announced his retirement as a player.
But what’s done is done. Kidd has shown his youth through the first third of the season, but the problems in Brooklyn go much deeper than its coach.
Onslaught of injuries
As of January 1, the Nets starters had combined for 34 games missed due to injury. The Miami Heat starters collectively missed 13.
Brooklyn lost its primary offensive threat when Brook Lopez went down for the season with a broken foot after 25 games, and Williams’ relentless ankle problems have given him trouble (again).
Take away any team’s best player—and cause its second gun to bounce in and out of the lineup—it'll struggle regardless of who the coach is.
Granted, Lopez is no LeBron James. But the 7-footer’s 25.78 PER was the second-highest in the Eastern Conference before he got hurt. Lopez was the only real post presence on the Nets, a team built for half-court basketball.
It’s unfair to completely assess Kidd’s performance as the team’s coach when every key player not named Joe Johnson has missed time. There is no team in the NBA that could suffer serious injuries to three starters and two key bench players—Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko have been M.I.A. for most of the year—and still hover over .500.
Steady decline of The Truth, KG
Along with a bevy of role players, King gave the Boston Celtics three of Brooklyn's first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018). But while Pierce and Garnett were both over 35 years old, the mindset was that they’d thrive in a reduced role.
If the pair of former Celtics were still in their prime, King would’ve pulled off a tremendous deal. But they’re not.
Both are averaging the worst offensive numbers of their storied careers, and have failed to make a difference on either end of the floor. Is an aging duo of former stars worth sacrificing a chance to nab a young stud in the 2014 draft?
The Nets also traded several key bench players in exchange for Pierce and KG, such as Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, and their lack of depth makes it difficult for Kidd to formulate successful rotations while dealing with constant injuries.
Before the season, Brooklyn looked like a legitimate contender. But perhaps Kidd's coaching has served as as a scapegoat for an even larger problem—a flawed roster.
Dark times ahead in Brooklyn
If you think the Nets are in a tough spot this season, just wait.
Draft picks really aren’t too popular in the Big Apple these days—the New York Knicks hand out picks like they’re Halloween candy, and Brooklyn’s next selection won’t happen until 2019.
Stan Van Gundy tore into Brooklyn while making an appearance with NBC Sports Radio on December 30. The former Orlando Magic coach didn’t pull any punches, but made a lot of sense in addressing the direction the Nets are headed.
Here’s what SVG had to say, courtesy of Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin:
I think with all the injuries it’s been hard to evaluate Jason Kidd. It’s been easy to jump on him not just because of the record, but the things coming out of their locker room, the situation with Lawrence Frank, the incident of spilling the drink on the floor. I mean this has looked like a bush league organization much of the year, they don’t play with much effort at all, a very uninspired team. But at the same time they had so many people hurt you just don’t know. And now they are not they are not going to be healthy all year…
You can do whatever you want with the coaching situation but it is not going to change the situation with their roster. They just don’t have a lot of options — they don’t have draft picks, they are way over the salary cap. They are probably in the worst situation of any team in the NBA right now.
Bush league, uninspired and the worst situation in the NBA? Ouch.
While his words are harsh, Van Gundy is right when he notes the absence of light at the end of the tunnel.
The Nets have an old team that's not winning, an inexperienced coach and no draft picks coming in for a long time. Prokhorov's promise of a title by the year 2015 looks borderline ridiculous at the moment.
After this season, with Pierce and Garnett another year older and no college reinforcements coming in the foreseeable future, the Nets have a tumultuous road ahead of them—regardless of who their coach is.