At last, Kidd set to make coaching debut
November, 2, 2013
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Summer school is officially over for Jason Kidd.
The future Hall of Fame point guard, who was suspended for the first two games of the 2013-14 regular season for DWI, will make his head-coaching debut for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night in Orlando.
Kidd, a surprising hire by the Nets just 10 days after his retirement, began making the transition from player to coach in July at the NBA Summer League.
"This summer was real. This preseason was real," Kidd said during a recent "SportsCenter" conversation. "Being a head coach started a long time ago."
Kidd was forced to watch the team's first two games from afar because of his suspension.
"I think you learn from your mistakes," Kidd said. "And that has, unfortunately, affected my guys. But we are not just built on one coach, and we are not just built on one player. The two games that I will miss, I have a great coaching staff and the guys will be prepared for that, players and coaches. And we will move on."
Following their Game 7 ouster by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Nets decided they needed to make a change on the bench. Billy King went after the likes of Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers before deciding on Kidd, who convinced the Nets GM he was ready to enter the coaching ranks before he was named the 18th head coach in franchise history.
Ownership is high on Kidd, who captained the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 during his 6½-year tenure in New Jersey as a player.
Since being hired, Kidd has been learning on the fly, implementing his system and rotation and figuring out when to call timeouts and how to diagram plays on the sideline. He has been leaning on veteran assistants Lawrence Frank (defensive coordinator) and John Welch (offensive coordinator) while trying to gain the respect of an older, win-now roster and cultivating a great working relationship with his good friend and golfing buddy Deron Williams.
"He gets to make his debut finally after two games," Williams said with a laugh after the Nets beat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat with assistant Joe Prunty filling in for Kidd. "I think our coaching staff did a great job filing in for him. They're gonna be there no matter what. They did a great job."
Kidd's toughest challenge this season may be managing minutes for Kevin Garnett (37) and Paul Pierce (36), making sure the future Hall of Fame forwards are healthy for the playoffs. Kidd has already had a difficult time trying to convince KG it would be better if the 19-year veteran plays in just one game of back-to-back sets.
"I don't know if you ever hit your stride," Kidd said. "You look at the great ones, they always feel like they can get better as a player or as a coach. For me, every day is to get better. I will make mistakes. I might sit someone too long. I might take someone out at the wrong time. It is just understanding to learn from your mistakes, and hopefully you don't make them where you cause a team to lose."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kidd is looking to become just the fourth first-time coach to win a championship in his first year at the helm -- joining Pat Riley (1981-82 Lakers), Paul Westhead (1979-80 Lakers) and George Senesky (1955-56 Warriors).
His journey toward that goal begins Sunday night in Orlando.
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