The Brooklyn Nets were on a rocky road earlier this season with losses, injuries and the demotion of lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank by rookie head coach Jason Kidd. Things are looking up though, according to Deron Williams—this from New York writer Kenny Ducey:
Deron Williams, on the turnaround of Jason Kidd: "He was leaning on [Lawrence Frank] a lot...now he can coach how he wants." #Nets— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 22, 2014
The Nets beat the Orlando Magic Tuesday night, 101-90, for their third win in a row. More importantly, the team has won eight of nine so far in 2014, beating some of the top teams in the league, including the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Williams has been challenged by ankle injuries throughout the season but returned to the lineup on Monday, scoring 13 points off the bench as the Nets beat the New York Knicks. It was the first time Williams hadn't started since his rookie season. On Tuesday, he scored nine points and nine assists, again off the bench, on a strong back-to-back effort.
Deron:"We’ve got that swag back now where we feel like we can beat anybody when we step out there. That’s kind of what we have been missing"— Rod Boone (@rodboone) January 22, 2014
At this point, the team’s looking ahead, not behind. Roderick Boone from Long Island Newsday wrote about Kidd’s newfound comfort zone recently, quoting Nets general manager Billy King, who had appeared on ESPN Radio:
I think Jason is really coming into his own and is getting a feel for it. It's just not the fact that [assistant] Lawrence [Frank] is not there. I think just Jason has a better understanding of managing the game, managing the team. He's the one voice right now.
According to Boone, Kidd is turning the praise back to his players:
Those guys, this is a family, and so guys have been supportive throughout. Things didn't look good at the beginning, but guys kept working, stayed positive and hopefully we've turned the corner.
Coach Kidd has the Nets playing at a high level on offense and defense. Point Guard Deron Williams makes everybody on the Nets better!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 21, 2014
Kidd reassigned Frank to a reduced role at the beginning of December. It was a seismic shakeup for the struggling team and a bold move for a brand new head coach. According to ESPN, there had been friction and philosophical differences between Kidd and Frank since the start of the season.
That’s all in the past now—the Nets have turned the corner and are moving on.