Giannis Antetokounmpo: Any team that bets on Jason Kidd influence likely to be left devastated

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 06: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 06: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

With Jason Kidd reportedly set to interview with the New York Knicks, his influence on Giannis Antetokounmpo is again being overstated.

Former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd is back in the news, and it seems like he may find himself back in a head coaching job in the not too distant future. At least, that is, if he can continue to work on the current messaging that surrounds his candidacy.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Monday that the New York Knicks had received permission to interview Kidd, among others, for their vacant head coaching job.

More from Bucks News

The news that created even more noise came from Newsday’s Steve Popper, who tweeted that not only would Kidd be interested in that job but also noted that “some teams interested in Kidd think that he could provide a link to the prize of next year’s free agent class, Giannis.”

For as absurd as those kind of rumblings are, they’re not exactly surprising.

If I was tasked with trying to get Kidd a new job, I’d certainly play up the admiration Antetokounmpo at least once held for him, as opposed to emphasising how he’d successfully managed to hold both Giannis and the Bucks back to the point where it’s possible the Greek could have two MVP awards and two 60-win seasons to show for his two seasons since the Hall of Fame point guard was replaced as coach by Mike Budenholzer.

Since being fired by the Milwaukee Bucks, Jason Kidd has made a public effort to highlight the relationship he had with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Of course, all of this tracks back to Chris Haynes, then of ESPN, describing Antetokounmpo as “devastated” in the immediate aftermath of Kidd’s firing. Antetokounmpo had been coached by Kidd for all but one year of his NBA career to that point and, known as an incredibly loyal and empathetic individual, was unsurprisingly sad to see someone he’d worked with so closely move on.

The reality, though, is that Antetokounmpo’s game showed no ill-effects and, even in the moment, his public comments and demeanor never really came close to matching the dramatic effect implied by the use of devastated.

It’s also worth noting that from the day that he was fired, Kidd was all too happy to go on the record to tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Antetokounmpo had “offered to help save his job.”

In other words, if any perceived relationship with Giannis plays even the smallest factor in getting Kidd another head coaching opportunity, the groundwork that Kidd himself started to lay in betraying Antetokounmpo’s confidences on the very day he was fired will have paid off.

It’s not Antetokounmpo’s way to publicly disparage any of his former teammates or coaches, and that’s something which will likely never change, and should be celebrated.

But in the time since Giannis was last coached by Kidd, Antetokounmpo has matured and his understanding of what’s important in both basketball and life has clearly evolved. That has certainly shone through in comments Antetokounmpo has given about the differences in playing under Budenholzer compared to Kidd.

As an example, there’s plenty that could be read between the lines of the exchange that Giannis had with Haynes, now of Yahoo! Sports, about load management at the beginning of this season, but what’s actually said explicitly is enough to prevent the need for any attempts to parse the reigning MVP’s deeper thoughts.

"“I was used to [former Bucks coach] Jason Kidd. He was breaking us down, but I was happy about it. I think I was the only one that was embracing that. I came from nothing and worked hard every day. That’s what I was used to.“Having Jason Kidd was fun. Obviously, we didn’t break through from the first round, but it’s different. Like, if this is the middle, Jason Kidd was right here and Mike Bud is way over there [in coaching philosophy]. They’re totally different. Mike Bud wants you to rest, he wants you to stay with your family, but the day we work out, he wants you to be there and he wants you to give everything.”"

Having recognized that he’s had a taste of playing under two coaching polar opposites, the success both individually and at a team level that has come with Budenholzer essentially makes it implausible that Giannis would be eager to reunite with Kidd, or play under any coach of his ilk.

That still may not stop a desperate from clinging to such hopes, though, and may ultimately fuel the match made in hell that would be Kidd coaching the Knicks.

Whether it’s this offseason when he faces a supermax contract offer from the Bucks, or the following one when he could still re-sign for the Bucks or move elsewhere, I guarantee that Antetokounmpo won’t be thinking back wistfully to the Jason Kidd era. Those were times when Giannis made first round exits, if he was in the playoffs at all, was banned from taking threes, and was being worn down physically, all by a coach who seemed to relish in sowing tension and discord among his own players.

Next. Darvin Ham opens up on race and NBA coaching. dark

If Kidd’s next job is tied to any misguided dream of luring Antetokounmpo to join him, the only people who’ll be left devastated this time around are the former Bucks coach and his future employers.