When the Los Angeles Lakers brought on Jason Kidd as an assistant coach under the newly hired Frank Vogel — and made him the highest-paid assistant in the NBA — speculation that it could only end in Kidd stabbing Vogel in the back and taking his job ran rampant.
But while it’s still possible that could happen eventually, Vogel has been wonderful in his first year as head coach, and Kidd has been an important and valued part of his staff. The two have also developed a great rapport, and are even able to laugh about all those backstabbing rumors.
And with all the winning the Lakers have done this season has come a cleansing of Kidd’s checkered coaching reputation, to the point that when Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN did his annual round-up of the most highly touted candidates on the coaching market, Kidd’s name came up:
After two rocky stints in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, Jason Kidd has received favorable reviews as an assistant under Frank Vogel for the Lakers. He’s eager for another chance as a head coach and will likely have opportunities to make a pitch to owners and execs in the near future.
Well, first thing’s first, watch your back, Frank. Stay in a group or in public, visible places when you’re at Disney World.
In all seriousness, though, it seems that — against all odds going into the season — the first rumors of Kidd’s head coaching viability have come about a job that isn’t currently occupied by Frank Vogel. Anthony Irwin owes me 50 bucks.
But Kidd champing at the bit for another shot isn’t surprising. What is has been his coaching redemption. It hasn’t just been about him being an assistant on a staff that’s helmed the team with the best record in the Western Conference, it’s also been how he specifically has contributed to that group. He’s publicly and privately supported Vogel, as well as using his credibility as one of the best point guards in NBA history to gather buy-in from the team’s guard corp and help them improve, with Quinn Cook saying that “when he speaks everybody listens.” It’s been a season-long pushback on all the negative narratives attached to his previous coaching tenures.
All of it has led to Kidd’s somewhat surprising placement on this list, as well as his name being connected to the open Brooklyn Nets head coaching job. It still seems unlikely that he’ll end up leaving the Lakers before the playoffs take place, but at this point, it is tough to see him with the team next season. Or even if he is, it appears to be all but a certainty that he’ll get a third try as a head coach at some point down the line. If those opportunities come as a result of how much he helped the Lakers, just about any fan or member of the organization would probably take it.