Before the season started, if you had told me I was going to be typing the “Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd is a candidate for the full-time head coaching job” I would have expected it to be accompanied closely by the passage “the Lakers have fired Frank Vogel today.”
But those coup attempt expectations from the summer never came anywhere close to taking place, as Vogel and Kidd developed a great rapport — even joking about the rumors that Kidd would try to take Vogel’s job at some point — and worked together as part of a coaching staff that steered the Lakers to the best record (49-14) in the Western Conference when the season came to a halt due to the threat of COVID-19, or the coronavirus.
As a result of the credit he’s gotten for his contributions, we knew Kidd would get some head coaching buzz at some point, and that has officially begun, as Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that Kidd is a candidate for the open Brooklyn Nets head coaching job:
The Nets' process to name a full-time replacement for Kenny Atkinson is not expected to hit top speed until this season is either completed or canceled, but they have been collecting names and, at this juncture, Tom Thibodeau is believed to be solely a Knicks candidate— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 23, 2020
Earlier this week, @SBondyNYDN reported on the mutual interest between Clippers assistant Ty Lue and Kyrie Irving in a potential Brooklyn reunion after their time together in Cleveland. Golden State assistant coach Mike Brown is another name to monitor ...— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 23, 2020
Somewhat hilariously, Kidd was also the coach of the Brooklyn Nets JUST FOUR HEAD COACHES AGO (and only two if not counting interims). In 2014, he parted way with the franchise after only one season of coaching the team when they traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks following his attempt at a hostile takeover of the front office (no, seriously, that’s actually what happened).
It’s sort of hard to believe that Kidd would merit serious consideration to return to the franchise after his tumultuous time in Milwaukee that followed his limited Nets coaching stint, even with as well as his time as a Lakers assistant has gone. Still, he very much does appear to be getting pushed as a real candidate, and this is a new ownership group and front office running things in Brooklyn, while Nets star Kyrie Irving (a New Jersey native who grew up a Nets fan) has spoken in the past about how he looked up to Kidd and thinks “he’s a tremendous leader.”
Stranger things have happened in the NBA, too. Mike Brown was rehired by the same ownership group just three years after being fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers following only a short stint with the Lakers, so maybe the purple and gold just has a cleansing effect on these things. Enough has changed in Brooklyn that they might as well be a different team, too.
If Kidd is hired by the Nets, that would create a practical problem for the Lakers if this season resumes, as they would need to fill his slot as an assistant quickly. It’s completely unknown if they’d just promote from within or delegate extra responsibilities to the existing staff for whatever limited campaign continues, but it seems unlikely they’d bring in someone entirely new and just throw them into a mix that’s worked pretty well. Kidd may also want to finish things out before taking the job, as some assistants have done in the past.
Kidd still has to actually get (re)hired before any of this is a problem, however. We’ll be keeping an eye on this coaching search for updates, and the Lakers will have to fill a void if they lose Kidd, as unlikely as that sentence seemed just a little under a year ago. He’s been a trusted voice for players in the locker room, and him departing would have the potential to upset this team’s nearly perfect chemistry balance.
But don’t expect Kidd to be here for the long haul regardless. Whether it’s this job or a future one, expect this to be an indicator that Kidd’s reputation may have rebounded enough to get him another head coaching job sooner rather than later.