When the Nets were going through the process of hiring Jason Kidd, I asked myself: “Is lack of experience really a bad thing?”
The answer I kept coming back to was no.
To me, lack of experience means a complete clean slate. It means you don’t have past failures. It means you aren’t stubborn on an idea that hasn’t been successful. It means you are fresh, you are ready to try new things that haven’t been tried before. Or you’re ready to re-try things that have failed.
Lack of experience means mistakes are excused. It means your ideas come from you and the many people who have influenced you.
Experience equals George Karl, a coach who you know exactly what you are getting. You’re getting tried and tested ideas. You’re getting a system that has been done and done again. Experience means there is a ceiling and, barring an unforeseen change, a ceiling whose height is crystal clear.
Inexperience equals Kidd, a coach who could be anywhere between a colossal failure and overwhelming success. You’re getting something new and fresh that has likely never been done before. Inexperience means that the floor is as low as the ceiling is high, and the result could land anywhere between. Inexperience means you haven’t been “brainwashed” by what hasn’t worked, because you haven’t done anything.
But, this isn’t a piece on convincing you Kidd is the right man for the job. That’s over and done with. This is why I don’t want Lawrence Frank to be the head coach of the Nets.
Because, I’ll be honest, that’s kind of what it’s starting to look like.
Okay. I’ll pause for a second. I understand that it’s Summer League and the outcome doesn’t matter and Kidd was on the Knicks roster like a month and a half ago and that he’s coached one more NBA-sort of game than I have. And I get that coaching requires a learning curve that I could never understand. And I get that a first-time coach should surround himself with smart people to help him do it.
But, the key word there is help.
From what I’ve seen so far, and again, I know the sample size is small, it seems like Frank is doing a whole lot of coaching on this team and Kidd is doing a whole lot of watching.
I’ll say that I liked what I saw and read about Kidd’s debut performance in last night’s loss. He seemed active and vocal on the sidelines. I also loved the fact that he got T’ed up because it shows that he isn’t afraid to break the rules, especially because that’s sometimes the best way to learn them.
And, to add, I liked the fact that Nets hired Frank. I like that he’s familiar with Kidd, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, as well as the Nets organization. I think he should be a good addition.
But the reason why I liked the Kidd hiring so much was because he had no idea how to coach a basketball team. I wanted him to learn how to coach from himself, from his own instincts, from his own theories and ideas and abilities. I want him to be a combination of his influences (Frank included). I want Kidd to be his own coach. I don’t want him to graduate from Lawrence Frank University and become his disciple.
I’m not saying this is going to happen. I just really don’t want it to.
And why this possibility scares me is because of what I’ve been reading and seeing the last week or so. Last night, I saw Frank drawing up plays and giving them to Kidd. I’d rather see Kidd draw his own plays and have Frank critique them later.
Over the week, I’ve heard that Frank coaches the team and Kidd observes. I’d rather Kidd coach the team and Frank tell him what he would do differently.
I don’t want the Nets staff to be assistants coaching the team and Kidd. I want Kidd to coach the team and learn from the staff. The Nets didn’t pay Kidd $10.5M to be a figurehead. They paid him to be a head coach. If they wanted a Frank-implemented system, they could have just hired Frank. Guess what? That would have gone over horribly with the fanbase.
Herein lies the problem with what the Nets are doing right now. First off, it’s confusing for the players. The players are being coached by a guy who is coaching their coach in front of them. Kidd should run the practices and Frank should talk about his coaching outside the court. Frank shouldn’t be teaching Kidd how to coach. Who do the players go to? How do we know Kidd has command of the court? His personality is not the in-your-face type. How do we know this won’t ultimately lead to Kidd taking a backseat?
The second thing is, this has potential to ruin Kidd’s ‘lack of experience.’ The freshness, the newness, the identity all can easily become what Frank implements. Look at what happened last season. After Avery Johnson left, PJ Carlesimo openly stated that his system was basically Johnson’s system. I’m sure a reason for this had to do with timing and ease. You don’t just change a system halfway through the season. What makes everyone so sure that Frank’s system won’t just become Kidd’s?
I’ve already watched Frank coach the Nets, and to be honest, I don’t need to see it again.
Okay. Let me just say, before all you readers go into the comments and say how much I’m overreacting, that I’m probably overreacting. Or definitely overreacting. Kidd’s probably just learning the way he wants to learn. He will probably be his own coach and he will do what he wants by the time the season starts. It’s just Summer League and it doesn’t matter. When the real team gets to training camp, Kidd will probably be in charge and Frank will probably just be a helper. I’m about 85% sure that will happen.
But I can’t say I’m not worried that it won’t. I want Kidd to work out. I want him to make dumb mistakes and I want him to learn from them. I want him to come up with his own idea of what it means to be an NBA coach.
I just hope his assistants don’t hold him back.