Jason Kidd's job change is 'business'

ByMike Mazzeo ESPN logo
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jason Kidd avoided repeated questions about why he wanted to leave the Nets for the Milwaukee Bucks and did not say "Brooklyn" or "Nets" during his introductory news conference Wednesday at Bradley Center.

"This is business. I think [Nets general manager] Billy [King] said it best," Kidd said with a grin. "It's business, and that's what it comes down to."

In an abrupt turn of events, Kidd, after completing his rookie season as Nets coach, went to ownership and asked for final say in player personnel decisions, King confirmed during an interview on ESPN radio Wednesday.

The Nets said no, which prompted Kidd's agent, Jeff Schwartz, to ask for permission to speak with the Bucks, Kidd said. Permission was granted, and a deal was struck. King said he learned of Kidd's intentions exactly a week ago. The news broke Saturday night.

Brooklyn on Monday received two future second-round picks from Milwaukee for Kidd's coaching rights. Kidd was officially hired by the Bucks on Tuesday. The Nets have since reached agreement on a deal with Lionel Hollins to replace Kidd in Brooklyn, the team announced Wednesday.

Asked after the news conference about reports that said he was attempting to attain more power with the Nets, Kidd said they weren't true.

"Is there a power outage in Brooklyn? I think they have a good president, I think they're in good hands," he said.

"When you're a player, you're gonna be criticized. And as a coach, you're gonna be criticized even more because it's about wins and losses," Kidd said during his introduction. "And so for me it's being able to get better as a coach. I'm still a young coach and I've still got a lot to learn about coaching and I want to surround myself with guys like [Bucks GM] John [Hammond] and [owners] Wes [Edens] and Marc [Lasry] and be able to learn from them. I'm excited about this opportunity. Today is all about Milwaukee and I'll be criticized about why [Ersan] Ilyasova didn't take the game-winning shot. It just comes with the territory and we move forward."

Originally, it appeared as though Kidd would become the Bucks' president of basketball operations, but that didn't happen. Milwaukee fired coach Larry Drew and replaced him with Kidd, but Hammond kept his job.

"We were asked to keep it confidential, and we did and I think it was -- obviously in retrospect -- that was a mistake," said Lasry, who is close with Kidd and once served as his financial adviser during Kidd's playing days. "I think we've learned a lot in the last couple days about process and things, and I think that was our fault, and we shouldn't have done that.

"I would tell you it was very much newness [to owning a team]. We've learned a lot in this process. Our view hasn't changed from the beginning, that all the basketball operations goes through John. In this process we've learned we made a mistake."

Kidd's relationship with King was "strained," sources told ESPNNewYork.com. Kidd had become aware that King brought up the possibility with ownership of making a coaching change when the Nets were in the midst of a 10-21 start. King denied it, saying he remained steadfast in his support of Kidd. Brooklyn eventually turned its season around, winning 34 of its final 51 games to qualify for the playoffs. The Nets were eliminated in the second round by the Miami heat.

"I'm not gonna take shots at him," King said Tuesday. "For the year he worked for us here, he did a hell of a job. He got us from where we were [10-21 record to 44-38], and a lot of you guys were asking the question [after the slow start], 'Is he on the hot seat?' and I said, 'No.' And then a lot of you guys were asking me off the record, thinking I would say something different, and I said, 'No.' I supported him then, and I supported him at the end of the year. I think he has the ability to be a great coach, and I think he will be."

Later, King said, "I don't look at it from a personal standpoint. This is business, and things happen. People look at jobs, people judge people. If they don't like a job somebody's doing people make decisions, whether it's coaching or management, and that happens. But I don't look at it as any personal affront to me. Whatever he felt he needed to do, he did. And when ownership did, they did."

Kidd is leaving the NBA's largest market for a small-market franchise that finished an NBA-worst 15-67. The Bucks are hoping they can turn things around, though, after selecting Jabari Parker with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft last week.

"It's not about the market. It's about being able to teach, and I have a great opportunity in Milwaukee with a young roster. Our goal is to become a championship team, and having this opportunity with Milwaukee, I'm very excited about it," he said. "I've played in small markets, I've played in big markets, basketball is inside the arena. It doesn't recognize what market you're in. It's about wins and losses. That's they way I approach it."

Asked what he learned during his one season in Brooklyn, Kidd replied, "Patience." He believes he can get the most out of his players, similar to how he got the most out of players like Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson with the Nets.

Kidd was asked how his players can learn from any mistakes he's made on and off the court during his career.

"No one's perfect, and I'll be first to admit that," he said. "When I have a young team like I do, it's about if you make a mistake being able to own it, learn from it and try not to do it again."

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