Brooklyn Nets' Best Coaching Options to Replace Jason Kidd

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIJune 30, 2014

Brooklyn Nets' Best Coaching Options to Replace Jason Kidd

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    The Brooklyn Nets will be moving forward without head coach Jason Kidd after his failed power play to gain the president of basketball operations role.

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Charles Gardner, ESPN's Marc Stein and Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski all reported that Kidd will join the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets' compensation will be two second-round picks.

    While Kidd was vying for a dual role with the Bucks as coach and team president, he'll only be tabbed as the former in Milwaukee, according to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck.

    So now that Kidd's brazen attempt to gain more power within Brooklyn's organization has failed, where do the Nets go from here?

    They'll join the Los Angeles Lakers as the only other NBA team without a man tabbed to patrol the sideline in 2014-15. Key names like Lionel Hollins and Brooklyn native Mark Jackson have already entered the fray, but are they viewed as the top candidates for the vacant position?

    Brooklyn must target the most capable coaches on the market. Guys with winning resumes are a must, because the Nets have an expensive roster that has no choice but to win now.

5. Byron Scott

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    Although Byron Scott is considered the front-runner for the Lakers' coaching vacancy, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, he still hasn't been tabbed as Mike D'Antoni's replacement in Lakerland.

    As long as he hasn't inked a deal elsewhere, it makes sense for Brooklyn to consider him as a viable candidate.

    Scott won Coach of the Year honors in 2007-08 when he was drawing up X's and O's for the New Orleans Hornets. That squad won 56 games, finished first in its division and reached the Western Conference semifinals (where it fell in a hard-fought, seven-game series against the San Antonio Spurs).

    Much more importantly, Scott led the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. Ironically, he was coaching Kidd during that span. His connection to the organization may help his case, but a lot has changed in the decade since the Nets fired him.

    Nevertheless, Scott is no stranger to coaching elite point guards. In addition to Kidd, he coached Chris Paul—viewed by many as the best 1-guard in the Association. Kyrie Irving, yet another All-Star floor general, referred to his former coach as his "basketball father" after Scott's tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers came to a close in 2013, per the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd.

    On that basis, the Nets should at least consider nabbing him before the Lakers do.

    Deron Williams has lost his confidence. He's no longer the premier floor general he was with the Utah Jazz. If Scott could manage to put D-Will in positions to score and distribute, as well as build his conviction—as he did for Kidd, CP3 and Irving—Brooklyn would be able to at least salvage part of Williams' gargantuan contract.

    The Nets have a chance at being an Eastern Conference contender next season, but that possibility lies with Williams.

4. George Karl

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    As yet another Coach of the Year winner on the free-agent coaching market, former Denver Nuggets headman George Karl certainly has an impressive resume.

    In his career, Karl has notched 1,131 regular-season wins. That positions him sixth all-time behind legends Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

    Every team Karl has coached (the Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Seattle SuperSonics, Bucks and Nuggets) made the postseason at least once under his watch. Denver reached the playoffs for nine straight seasons before Karl's dismissal and missed out on postseason play immediately afterward.

    The Nets should express interest, which is something Karl reportedly has already done.

    According to Comcast SportsNet's Chris Haynes, Karl would have "significant interest" in coaching the Nets if the job became available. Well, now it's open to suitors.

    The biggest knock on Karl is postseason success. He has a career playoff coaching record of 80-105. While it's impressive that his teams attained playoff berths with regularity, he's only reached the NBA Finals once (in 1995-96 with Seattle).

    Even so, Karl is a name that would garner immediate respect from the locker room. Whether his up-tempo style would work with guys like Brook Lopez and an aged Kevin Garnett, however, is up for debate.

3. Mark Jackson

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    As a Brooklyn native who played his college ball at St. John's University and part of his NBA career with the New York Knicks, Mark Jackson appears to be a no-brainer candidate to coach the Nets.

    The 49-year-old had a successful coaching stint with the Golden State Warriors. He led Stephen Curry and Co. to 47 and 51 wins in 2013 and 2014, respectively, after a 23-43 campaign in 2011-12.

    His teams even displayed competitive fire in the playoffs—ousting Karl's Nuggets in 2013. A first-round exit in 2014, however, was simply a contributing factor to his dismissal.

    As ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk and Marc Stein wrote, "Jackson, who is currently an NBA analyst for ESPN, was ousted by the Warriors in May after his own flap with ownership, and he famously defended Kidd's decision to demote highly paid lead assistant Lawrence Frank."

    After the Kidd-Frank fiasco, Jackson said, "I've never seen anyone of the Pips try to lead. That's Gladys' role. Let Gladys be Gladys," per the New York Post's Tim Bontemps.

    Jackson was one of Kidd's staunchest backers in a time of turmoil. Ultimately, that stance may not help his case in the eyes of Nets management.

    Both Jackson and Kidd now have a history of not seeing eye-to-eye with ownership (fair or not). That red flag should scare general manager Billy King away from this coaching candidate.

2. Lionel Hollins

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    Lionel Hollins is arguably the most noteworthy coach available right now.

    From 2009-10 through 2012-13, the Memphis Grizzlies improved from year to year in both winning percentage and defensive rating under his tutelage. They even reached the Western Conference Finals in 2013, but that wasn't enough for Hollins to retain his job.

    Could he be the guy who takes over for Kidd in Brooklyn?

    Youngmisuk and Stein reported that Hollins is "a very serious candidate" for the Nets job. A league source told them, "In a lot of ways he makes the most sense. He represents stability, and stability is very important right now. He rules with an iron fist and gets a lot out of his players, so he'd be very high on the list right now, and likely the leader."

    The defensive-minded coach worked with talented big men named Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in Memphis. As a result, it's no surprise he'd be among the leading candidates to take over a squad that features Lopez and KG.

    His old-school vibe is a logical fit with a veteran-laden Nets team, but a dark-horse candidate is poised to challenge for the gig.

1. Ettore Messina

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    Ettore Messina isn't a familiar name in NBA circles, but the Italian, who last coached CSKA Moscow, has the Russian connection with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

    According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, he's seen as one of the leading candidates for the open position.

    Messina's relationship with the Russian team—and thus Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko—isn't his only calling card. He's also won four Euroleague championships (twice with CSKA Moscow) and was named Euroleague Coach of the Year twice (in 2006 and 2008).

    Clearly, he's no slouch on the sideline. He could follow in the footsteps of newly minted Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, who will make the NBA transition after a vastly successful career overseas.

    Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk labeled Messina "an offensive innovator." With Williams, Lopez, Joe Johnson and others, he'd have no shortage of offensive weapons to work with.

    His lone NBA job was spent as a consultant for the Lakers in 2011-12 under head coach Mike Brown, but don't be surprised if he makes a return to the States as coach of the Nets next year.

    Prokhorov needs a man he can trust following the Kidd debacle.