The New York Knicks may reportedly target former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd to replace David Fizdale, who was fired Friday, because the front office believes it would help their pursuit of Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo when he becomes a free agent in 2021.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported the update during Tuesday's edition of First Take:
Kidd oversaw Antetokounmpo's rise into one of the league's top players while serving as head coach of the Bucks from July 2014 through January 2018.
After he was fired, the Greek Freak credited the longtime NBA point guard for helping his development by using a cautious approach that didn't push him to take on too much responsibility before he was ready:
"He was a big part of my success. He trusted me, he put the ball in my hands, he motivated me on a daily basis, he pushed me to be great and not to be mediocre. ...
"I was 19 when he came, and he said he was going to put the ball in my hands. The first time I wasn't ready. I told him, 'Coach, I'm not ready to create and make plays for the team.' He said, 'OK, we're going to take our time.' The next year, he put the ball in my hands and I was ready."
Meanwhile, New York is still looking for its new franchise cornerstone after failing to lure any elite players from the star-studded 2019 free-agent class. The Knicks saw the duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, long linked to the franchise, land with the crosstown-rival Nets instead.
RJ Barrett, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft, could eventually fill that void. But even if he develops into an All-NBA performer for the Knicks, he's going to need help turning the franchise around.
The 25-year-old reigning MVP has been tight-lipped about his future, with the Bucks eligible to offer him a five-year, $253.75 million supermax contract extension next summer.
"I'm not gonna talk about it a lot this season, and I'm not going to try to address it," Antetokounmpo told reporters in September.
If he opts against signing the record-setting deal, the Bucks may be forced to consider trade offers with the potential of losing him to free agency for nothing in 2021 looming.
That said, it's hard to consider Antetokounmpo to the Knicks anything other than an extreme long shot at this stage, with or without Kidd on the bench.