As has been reported would happen for a little over a week, the Los Angeles Lakers have officially hired Jason Kidd to join Frank Vogel’s staff as an assistant coach. We did not get this news with an official press release — which is probably coming shortly — but because Vogel inadvertantly confirmed it to reporters while saying he wasn’t worried about Kidd replacing him (via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN):
“No, I am very good at blocking out noise,” Vogel said with a chuckle when asked about how some in the media have already deemed Kidd as a successor. “I have been around this business a long time. I really don’t give that a second thought. You can say that about every coach in the league about their assistant coaches. It happens from time to time. I believe if you treat people with the right respect and do the job at the highest level, build an environment of positivity and collaboration, you can’t worry about that stuff.
”You can’t worry about looking over your shoulder. You got to worry about getting good damn coaches, and that is how I feel about this hire.”
Vogel also answered questions about Kidd’s criminal history, and said that he felt like Kidd was a different person now:
“I had a great, lengthy interview process with Jason where we talked about every topic you can imagine, and came away thinking he’s going to be an incredible asset to our program.”
Vogel said he addressed Kidd’s domestic abuse arrest in 2001, when Kidd pleaded guilty to charges of domestic abuse involving his then-wife Joumana, with his new assistant.
”Of course it does,” Vogel said when asked whether the incident gave him pause. “But this was something that was in the past and he’s sort of spoken upon it and moved on from it. I believe he’s in a very different place than back then.”
Our own Anthony Irwin extensively outlined that history here, but in brief, it includes Kidd pleading guilty to both spousal abuse and driving while intoxicated in 2012.
Which exact role Kidd will play on the staff is still unspecified, but he is widely expected to serve some sort of player development role, particularly with point guard Lonzo Ball.
Ball drew Kidd comparisons heading into the 2017 NBA Draft, as both are taller guards who can’t really shoot but do almost everything else really well. Kidd obviously made more of an immediate impact than Ball did, but the Lakers’ hope is evidently that Kidd can help Ball reach his full potential. While their mentor/mentee relationship might have been initially overstated — they apparently only spoke on the phone once — that doesn’t mean that Kidd won’t be able to help Ball.
Does that possibility make hiring Kidd worth the criminal baggage he brings with him? The Lakers have made it clear both through leaks and their decision to hire him that evidently they think it does, and evidently, they and Vogel feel he is no longer the same person. Now that his employment is official, it will be worth watching to see if anyone with the team feels inclined to reveal why Kidd was so important as to move past such concerns, beyond the team leaking that he impressed them during his interview for the head job.
This hire also starts the countdown clock on the inevitable rumors we’ll get about Vogel’s job security, Oh, we already have those? Okay.
And even if Vogel claimed above to not be concerned about such whispers, and even if they aren’t from a reputable source yet, because of Kidd’s well-known and transparent history of power grabs, it’s only a matter of time before an overanalyzed sideline interaction between Kidd and LeBron James, or some other such innocuous moment creates them, whether Kidd is totally supportive of Vogel or not.
That may not be entirely fair to either party, but life rarely is fair, and that’s the reality of the 24/7 media climate. Now that Kidd appears to be officially hired, we can start the countdown clock to speculation.