Coming into the season, there were a number of question marks surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers, and the mix of personalities on the coaching staff were among them — most notably Jason Kidd.
For whatever reason, the Lakers planned on making Kidd part of their coaching staff regardless of who the head coach was going to be — something that didn’t sit well with one of the early head coaching candidates, Tyronn Lue. Some Lakers fans also weren’t too thrilled with the idea of Kidd joining the team, in part due to his criminal past, but also because he failed to show any growth as a head coach during his three and a half seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks.
While it’s unclear if he has any more or less supporters among the team’s fanbase since starting his new job in June, it’s clear he has a handful of fans in the locker room. During an interview with Bill Oram of The Athletic, Rajon Rondo explained how Kidd has helped him stay productive in his 13th NBA season:
“J-Kidd had a film session where he got on me pretty tough about if we’re going to go far I’m going to have to start being more aggressive,” Rondo said.
He proceeded to make six of seven 3-pointers in three games in December.
“He’s very critical of my game and critiques me, constructive criticism, and I accept it coming from one of the best guards ever to play the game,” Rondo said. “He’s always straightforward and honest with me.”
The parallels between Rondo and Kidd make some sense. Rondo isn’t as skilled as Kidd was offensively or defensively, but their skillsets are similar, especially now that Rondo is knocking down 3-point shots an efficient clip. In 16 appearances, Rondo has shot a career-high 43.8% from behind the arc on three attempts per game.
It’s hard to tell someone to “play like Jason Kidd” in the 13th year of their career, but it seems that’s what Kidd is trying to do with Rondo and it’s kind of working. Rondo isn’t the only point guard on the Lakers that Kidd has impressed, though.
Quinn Cook also told Oram that Kidd being a Lakers assistant was a big part of why he came to Los Angeles, and explained how Kidd has helped him since he got here:
Cook said Kidd’s presence made the Lakers a more appealing destination when he was a free agent and said Kidd has the respect of the Lakers’ locker room.
“He’s one of the greatest players to ever play,” he said. “Second of all, he has experience being an NBA coach. When he speaks everybody listens.”
Kidd may not be any team’s dream head coaching candidate (except for maybe the New York Knicks), but he’s been a fine assistant coach for the Lakers so far, and it sounds like his experience as a player has played a big role in that. It’s one thing to be someone that’s been around the game for as long as Kidd has, but it’s another thing to have played it at the highest level like Kidd — a Basketball Hall of Famer — did. That’s experience players are likely to value, and potentially a reason why Vogel (who never played professional basketball) and the organization seem to have prioritized it while adding Kidd and Lionel Hollins to his bench.
And unless another team picks him up or LeBron James leads a coup against Frank Vogel after an early playoff exit, Kidd looks set to continue to be an experienced voice on the sidelines for the Lakers.