(Jason) Kidd’s not alright for the Philadelphia 76ers.
With that in mind, Kidd’s otherworldly abilities to see the court and execute at an All-NBA-level haven’t quite translated to the sidelines.
The owner of a 49.1 winning percentage, thanks largely to an underachieving Bucks squad that went 33-49 in 2015-16, Kidd’s tenure on the sidelines has at best been average. At worst? Well, some would assert that Kidd has a nasty habit of putting his teams in a position to underperform to their talent level, let alone perform above the sum of its parts.
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I don’t know about you, but that’s not the guy I want running the Philadelphia 76ers in what may be their final chance to shoot for a title before succumbing to another roster-turning rebuild.
Okay, in theory, Kidd makes some sense with the Sixers if the team’s sole goal is to optimize Ben Simmons. Like Simmons, Kidd is a bigger, ball-dominant, defense-focused guard with great vision and otherworldly passing prowess. Kidd also has a ton of experience coaching Simmons-y NBA players, first with Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee and then as an assistant on Frank Vogel‘s 2019-20 Lakers.
If getting Simmons fully confident as a point guard is the goal, then yeah, outside of prying Nash away from his ‘player development consultant‘ role with the Warriors, there isn’t a better man for the job. Only, here’s the thing: Just because Kidd could serve as an ideal resource for Simmons off the court doesn’t mean he can confidently put him in the best position to succeed on it.
In his lone season helming the Nets, Kidd took a team built to win now with the remnants of the Boston Celtics’ 2008 championship team all the way to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, where they suffered a gentleman’s sweep at the hands of LeBron James‘ Miami Heat. The following season, the Nets flipped their record from 44-38 to 38-44 with no thanks to Kidd, as he was traded to the Bucks for a pair of second-round picks after unsuccessfully attempting to usurp power away from former Philadelphia 76ers’ GM Billy King.
Yeah, you read that right, Kidd was traded for a pair of second-round picks, as a coach. That’s pretty darn rare, even by NBA standards.
Kidd then coached up the once-putrid Milwaukee Bucks from 15-67 to a .500 record in his first season with the team, which (obviously) is a massive improvement. Fielding a team with a pair of super-sized playmakers in Antetokounmpo and 2014 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, the Bucks made it to the playoffs in 2015 and 2017, before Kidd was relieved of his duties midway through the 2017-18 season despite having a 23-22 record.
But how could this be? Kidd turned a team picking two in the 2014 NBA Draft into a legit playoff contender and has the historically notable distinction of being the coach that oversaw Antetokounmpo’s transformation from the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft into, well, into The Greek Freak. How was he fired midseason, let alone allowed to sit on the open market for the entire 2018-19 season? How is he an assistant coach on the Lakers, and not even Vogel’s head assistant at that?
Well, let’s just say Kidd wasn’t exactly the most well-liked guy in the state of Wisconsin.
As beautifully compiled by ex-Bleacher Report staff writer Kristian Winfield here, Kidd routinely made excuses about his team’s age, underperformed when compared to their talent, and fielded an increasingly ineffective defense built around the bizarre idea to blitz a pair of defenders at would-be passers. Kidd also had a horrible relationship with the team’s 2014 first-round pick Jabari Parker, with the duo reportedly not speaking for much of their shared tenure. According to an unnamed player, it sounds an awful lot like Kidd singled out Parker in practice and effectively bullied him for a perceived lack of toughness, going so far as to attempt to trade him as a rookie.
Can the Philadelphia 76ers really afford to hire a vindictive head coach with personalities like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the roster? I’m all for adding a head coach who will hold players accountable, but how is that possible without positive communication?
Now to be fair, maybe Jason Kidd has changed. Maybe he’s taken his off time in 2018-19 and his assistant role in 2019-20 as a chance to work on his interpersonal relationships and become a more personable head coach. Everyone makes mistakes, and jumping right from the court to the sidelines has to come with a few growing pains, but with the Philadelphia 76ers’ organization in its current state, can they really afford to take a chance on a head coach with a well-documented history of front office politicking and locker room clashes? Fortunately, the reports that Kidd is interested in the position appears directly from his camp, implying that the interest may not be all that mutual. Eh, there’s always hope Steve Nash becomes available.