Monday, June 17, 2013

Jason Kidd and the NBA Coaching Conundrum

The Kidd stays in the picture, this time as a Head Coach

“I don’t know” is never a popular answer. It may connote unpreparedness or a lack of intellect in the speaker. Plus, it is rarely followed by “I told you so”, so obviously it has its limitations. But, in rare instances, it’s the right response to questions like “How do you think Jason Kidd will do as head coach?”

Let me be clear, I wouldn't want Jason Kidd to be the coach of my team right now.  I like my coaches to have...ya know, coached;  but Jason Kidd has been lauded as a basketball savant by most of the people of consequence in his career.  He is well liked and respected around the league. And why wouldn't he be? Kidd is a top-tier point guard and first ballot Hall of Famer. That said, he’s never coached and the rigors of that position differ greatly from that of floor general.

More analytically, writer Jared Dubin has a wonderful piece about “re-tread coaches” (or coaches with prior experience) and their winning percentages over the course of their contracts.  The conclusion he reaches, due to the winning percentages of all the coaches since 1996, is that it’s a wash.  It means that it isn’t about the KIND of coach you hire, but THE coach you hire.  Kidd’s basketball exploits are well chronicled, but how will he do as a coach? Only time will tell.  The staff that Kidd assembles will be of the utmost importance, he will desperately need experience to counter his dearth of it (he has already publicly asked for Lawrence Frank, one of Kidd’s former coaches, to join his burgeoning staff). I’ll be interested to see how eager former head coaches (who have been looking to resume their duties as head of a basketball team) will be to join the staff of a head coach who was a player a week ago. I’m not saying they would be resentful…I might be though.

The Coaching Landscape

There will be at least 12 teams with a different coach beginning this upcoming year than began last season. Some teams have become habitual changers (such as the Bobcats, who will have their third coach in as many years with the hiring of Steve Clifford), as a part of their continued futility.  Some franchises, however, experienced their best record in franchise history (hello Denver Nuggets) and still decided to change captains.

I don’t know to what to account the mass changes.  Perhaps owners are less patient given the higher salaries of coaches.  Moreover, the owners may look at the last two coaches (Rick Carlisle and Erik Spoelstra) and noticed it isn’t just about the big name coaches, it’s about the right personalities to fit your particular band of players.

These two may be making their way out of Boston together

Perhaps the best blend of personality of coach and players was the marriage of the original “Big 3” and Doc Rivers.  Over the past few days his name has been in the center of trade talks between the Clippers and Celtics (a note on logistics of “trading” coaches: the CBA doesn’t allow coaches to truly be traded, the discussions between the teams are actually discussing the release of Rivers from contractual obligation for the players the Celtics would receive). So far, they are just rumors and nothing can be confirmed (isn’t it cool that we know about these things as they develop now? My twitter TL read like an in-room stenographer). The fact that a coach that led the Clippers to one of the most successful seasons in franchise history may be replaced by a coach that gave the Celtics their first title in over twenty years shows that the coaching landscape has changed forever.

1 comment:

  1. You touched on crucial note when you referenced personalities. Kidd's bball acumen is above questioning; but the Nets have a slew of vets. I'm interested tosee how they respond to the voice of someone they were competing with a couple months ago.