Over the weekend, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN fired off a tweet suggesting that former Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd would be one of a few “serious candidates” to be Lakers head coach if Luke Walton is let go at the end of the season, as he is expected to be.
What was interesting about that wasn’t necessarily the report, however, it was the immediate and swift pushback on it from two of Wojnarowski’s colleagues at ESPN. First, Stephen A. Smith — who is well known to have a pretty direct line to Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson — said that Kidd isn’t being considered:
“I have been told that’s not gonna happen. I’m just telling you that the Lakers made it a point to get word to me this morning: Jason Kidd is not an option... They don’t think he would be the right fit for them.
Even if Smith isn’t your cup of tea, he’s not the only one saying this. The always-plugged-in Ramona Shelburne of ESPN backed up that reporting, saying that she thinks it’s “far more likely that (Kidd) doesn’t get the job” than that he does.
It makes you wonder who leaked that Kidd would be such a strong candidate, and all the more interesting (for those of us connecting dots) when Kidd hopped on ESPN’s “The Jump” with Rachel Nichols to essentially outline why he would want to coach a team that, oh, by the way, still currently employs a head coach.
Even if Kidd tried to save himself from criticism for campaigning for a currently filled job by saying Walton has done an “incredible job,” this is still a pretty bad look, as coaches are normally loath to talk about a job that isn’t open yet out of respect for their fellow coaches:
“We’ll wait until the season’s over to see what opportunities come about,” Kidd said, “and, hopefully, there’s one that fits.” Kidd described the Lakers franchise as one of the best in the world.
”Not just in the NBA, but the world,” he said. “And so if you ever have the opportunity to wear the purple and gold, you can’t turn that down. As a coach, as a player, because they’re all about championships, and so they have a process. They have a young team. And then LeBron [James] comes and kind of sped up things. And so he wants to win now. But I think, again, it takes time.”
Look, I get it. Kidd was asked about coaching the Lakers, and all he did was answer a question. That said, most coaches aren’t going to talk this extensively about a job that’s currently occupied, especially since this is essentially becoming a public campaign for a job that it seems he isn’t a real candidate for anyway.
Kidd went on to call James “the best player in the world” while (basically) implying that he would take the Lakers job if offered (emphasis mine):
”When you talk about the best player in the world, you always are going to say yes because as a coach or as a teammate, he’s always going to make you better because you’re going to work,” Kidd said. “As a coach, X and O’s, you got to be on point. And as a teammate, you’re going to work extremely hard because you know he’s going to need you to make that shot or come up with a defensive play.
”And so, that would be a great honor to coach any elite basketball player, and I’ve got that opportunity in Giannis. And, hopefully, somewhere down the road, I can have another star.”
It’s pretty clear at this point who Kidd wants that star to be, regardless of whether that star (James) already has a head coach or not. And even if we all pretty much know Walton is done at the end of the season, Kidd (in essence) starting to throw his name in the ring and get the coaching search started while Walton still has nine games left is bad form and sort of slimy, even if he tried to bail himself out of criticism for it by punctuating his public case with halfhearted praise for the job Walton has done.
This probably shouldn’t be a surprise, though. We’ve seen that Kidd is slightly Machiavellian in how he approaches getting his jobs. There was his hilariously overconfident power play attempt in Brooklyn, in which he demanded that Nets ownership give him power over the full basketball operations department that had hired him, while also keeping him on as head coach after just one year of coaching the team. Shockingly, that ploy did not work.
This isn’t even the first time Kidd has tried to Game of Thrones his way into a currently occupied head coaching job, because when his attempt at a palace coup in Brooklyn failed, Kidd started talking to Milwaukee Bucks ownership about coaching them, and got the team to trade for him BEFORE THEY HAD EVEN FIRED THEIR CURRENT HEAD COACH AT THE TIME, Larry Drew.
At the time, Wojnarowski memorably tweeted this:
Lost in this is violation of coach's code: You don't pursue job belonging to someone else. Humiliating end for Larry Drew. Kidd's shameless.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2014
Even if you don’t want Walton around long-term, it’s hard not to see this as nearly just as gross and shameless. This isn’t me advocating for Walton to be kept, either. This is just a distasteful way to handle one’s business, so kudos to the Lakers for so strongly leaking that they aren’t interested in Kidd in response to it. They have received a lot of criticism for how they’ve handled Walton’s tenure, but they deserve praise for putting it out there that they aren’t going to tolerate Kidd’s chicanery.
To listen to more talk about the Kidd situation, listen to the latest episode of “The Lake Show” below. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.