Kirilenko: Kidd “couldn’t handle” the pressure

James Jones, Andrei Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko in the playoffs (AP)
James Jones, Andrei Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko in the playoffs (AP)

In a Russian tabloid SovSport, Andrei Kirilenko told a reporter that the Nets intend to compete for a championship in the upcoming season, before taking some parting shots at former coach Jason Kidd.

Via NetsDaily, who provided the translation:

“We intend to seriously compete for the title,” said Kirilenko at point in the interview, later adding that “everyone is waiting for a championship victory from Brooklyn.

It’ll be difficult. The Nets are a year older, let Paul Pierce go for financial reasons, and the East is suddenly flush with talent. But that’s the right attitude for a veteran to have.

Kirilenko also alleged Kidd wasn’t ready for both a coaching job or the bright lights of being a leader in New York City:

As he has previously, Kirilenko seemed to diss Kidd, at one point suggesting he may not have wanted to deal with the pressure of coaching in New York, “So the pressure is huge. And Kidd couldn’t handle it. Or maybe didn’t want to.” He called the team’s second round exit a “lack of success.” (Kirilenko’s wife, Masha, publicly criticized Kidd for not playing the veteran in the playoffs.)

The criticism got harsher, more so than in previous interviews.

“Basically he was not able to do much of anything, if you look at the big picture – we have to admit that fact,” says Kirilenko, throwing his arms open. “There were objective reasons. Our starting center, Brook Lopez, injured himself early and was out for the whole season. There were health problems with other players. But the serious goals set before the club were not cancelled. We were serious about fighting for the title.”

“When Kidd became head of the team, no one really knew what to expect,” he added. “Of course he had colossal experience as a player but no coaching experience. Or reputation. At the beginning it was difficult. What else could it be when you’re losing more games than you’re winning? Things were a bit easier for me as I was injured at the time and couldn’t be on the court and do anything about it, no matter how much I wanted to. So, inside, I was calm.”

By saying Kidd wasn’t able to do much of anything, Kirilenko echoed the criticism from an anonymous scout in November that said Kidd was a total non-factor on the bench early in the season.

This isn’t Kirilenko’s first lap around the Kidd criticism track. Back in January, I asked Kirilenko about Kidd’s progress as a coach. He acknowledged that things were getting better, but also added that it was a confusing process. “In the beginning of the season when we started, we were kind of wondering, ‘what are we doing? Why are we doing this?’ A lot of talking, like people sometimes didn’t understand,” Kirilenko said.

NetsDaily — Andrei Kirilenko: “We intend to seriously compete for the title”

Related: The Ultimate Jason Kidd Timeline