Everyone has their Jason Kidd coup jokes ready for the first time LeBron James is seen talking to Kidd on the bench during a game, or for the first struggles the team encounters. But jokes are jokes, and Frank Vogel doesn’t seem to think that — despite Kidd’s predilection for power grabs — he’s in any danger.
Vogel has probably heard all of the speculation about his job security that Kidd’s hiring as the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA led to, but he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated that while Kidd was someone who the Lakers brought to his attention, he also fits the archetype of assistant coach that Vogel has always wanted as his right-hand man:
“I’ve gotten really comfortable with Jason,” Vogel said. “What I would say is every assistant coach in the NBA wants to be head coach. Jason’s no different in that regard. It was brought to my attention that they had an interest in bringing him on as an assistant … we had a great talk and a great interview and he’s in a terrific place. The thing about Jason that kept me to have an open mind immediately is that the lead assistant role on my staff, I’ve always tried to fill with a former player, a former respected player that has coaching experience dating back to Brian Shaw first, initially, and then onto Nate McMillan, and then Corliss Williamson on my coaching staff in Orlando.
“Those guys to me have always been the right complement to me, someone who has a strong background in terms of preparation and doing the video work and whatnot, but hadn’t played in the NBA. So I felt like those types of guys are perfect complements to me, and Jason may be the best of the bunch. A Hall of Fame player, really just a fierce, fierce competitor, someone that can really bring teeth to my message with our team, and so I saw a great potential in Jason puts potentially being on my staff. And when I interviewed him and we had a great talk, it became very clear that we are aligned in what we could accomplish as a tandem.”
While some of this is surely PR-speak, and this will still be a dynamic worth watching during the season, it is interesting to hear Vogel’s reasoning for bringing Kidd on staff beyond the Lakers wanting him to do so. It does make sense — and offer reason for optimism — that Vogel is aware of his weaknesses, and that he knows that as a former video guy, he may occasionally need a voice players can relate to a little better in order to get his message across.
Now, the question is if Kidd will actually be spreading Vogel’s message, or his own. We can’t know for certain, but maybe Kidd really is just happy being an assistant for now, and maybe he and Vogel’s visions are actually aligned. Based on Kidd’s history that seems unlikely, but we also have to allow for the possibility that he and Vogel really connected and had similar goals, as Vogel outlined, because we can project as much as we want, but only the people in the situation truly know how things are.
For some, this headline and story will completely assuage their concerns over Kidd trying to stage a coup. I’m not sure it’s safe to assume that will never happen yet based on one offseason interview, but it’s at least encouraging to hear that Vogel is saying the right things about it so far, and trying to get out ahead of drama-inducing speculation before it even truly starts. It’s also somewhat promising that Kidd and Vogel seem to be hitting it off so far.
There is also the reality that Vogel should feel confident. Even if Kidd did stage a coup (Koup?), Vogel would still get a boatload of guaranteed money for his trouble. Vogel obviously wouldn’t want to be fired, but that’s at least a pretty solid safety net if he does (and a deterrent for the Lakers not to do so, in addition to it adding to the perception of dysfunction in the organization).
A lot can happen once the season starts, but for now, it seems that Vogel is confident in his position, and that’s all fans can really hope for after years of tumult and turnover within the team’s front office and coaching ranks. We’ll just have to see if things stay this hunky-dory once the shots start flying and the 2019-20 campaign actually starts.