It’s been quite the weekend for the Milwaukee Bucks organization.
After drafting Jabari Parker on Thursday and running him through the gamut of local promotions and media events, the focus quickly shifted to the team’s head coaching position.
Word surfaced Saturday evening that Brooklyn Nets’ coach Jason Kidd had failed in his efforts to usurp control of the Nets organization, and Milwaukee swiftly – suspiciously swiftly – emerged as a candidate to land the second-year head coach’s services.
It was initially reported that Kidd would seek organizational control in Milwaukee, too, but the latest indications are that he would join the Bucks in a head coaching capacity only.
The Bucks are about as random a suitor for Kidd as could be, it would seem, but their interest is driven in large part by Kidd’s relationship to co-owner Marc Lasry, who was formerly Kidd’s financial advisor. As Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, the Bucks’ co-owners met with Kidd on Friday in New York City. With news of the Nets blocking Kidd from taking control surfacing Saturday night, it seems likely he knew he had the Bucks as a veritable safety net before meeting with Brooklyn.
Kidd’s displeasure with his current – well, now former – situation in Brooklyn reportedly stemmed from the deals rookie head coaches Derek Fisher and Steve Kerr recently received to lead the Knicks and Warriors, respectively:
Kidd was livid they were paid contracts substantially higher than what the Nets paid Kidd as a rookie coach.
“That got him – especially Fisher,” one official told Yahoo Sports.
Kidd was hired for three years, $10.5 million, only to be livid over Kerr and Fisher getting four-year deals guaranteeing more than $4 million dollars per season. Lost on Kidd was this: His dicey history made him unappealing as a coach, except with the Nets.
Despite Kidd’s greatness as a Hall of Fame point guard, he had a long career of clashing with front-office executives and coaches, a domestic abuse charge and a DWI guilty plea that left him suspended for his first two games as an NBA head coach. Kidd had little leverage upon his hiring as coach, which is why the Nets refused to overpay him market value.
Talks between the Bucks and Kidd have been ongoing Sunday, and the major obstacle at this point appears to be the compensation Brooklyn would receive in exchange for Kidd. The Nets are seeking a 2015 first-round pick, while Milwaukee is only willing to offer a second-rounder. Currently, the Bucks hold one first-rounder (their own) in each of the next four drafts. They are, however, in possession of six second round picks over that span (four of their own, one from Sacramento and one from the Clippers – both protected).
While unusual, trading for a coach is not unheard of. About this time last summer, the Celtics sent Doc Rivers to the Clippers in exchange for exactly what Brooklyn wants: an unprotected 2015 first-rounder. So Brooklyn’s desire for a first round pick isn’t necessarily an outrageous asking price. However, Rivers’ profile as a veteran, title-winning coach is considerably higher than that of Kidd, who struggled to find his bearings and clashed with assistants in his first season with the Nets.
Clearly, the Bucks and Nets hold all of the leverage here – more so the Nets. If Milwaukee does not back down and refuses to send a first-rounder to Brooklyn, Kidd will certainly be terminated and probably out of a job anywhere in the NBA next season. So it’s decidedly in his best interest, personally, for a trade to be agreed upon.
Even if the reported deal falls through, it’s hard to imagine Larry Drew – as in the Bucks’ current head coach – returning to the bench next season. The man who sat aside Jabari Parker at his public press conference Friday morning would, in all likelihood, scoff at the idea of returning to an organization that attempted to replace him without warning.
The strange part – well, one of many strange parts – of this story is the new regime appeared committed to Drew going forward, for at least one more season. With Milwaukee still in a state of flux and likely to wind up in the lottery again next season, there really wasn’t much concern over whether Drew’s job was safe. I get that Kidd is Lasry’s guy, but it seems like a drastic, albeit unnecessary, move for a team that’s still a few years away from contending. It’s Jason Kidd we’re talking about, not Doc Rivers.