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UNLV reportedly wants to hire Jason Kidd as head coach

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Could Jason Kidd leave the Lakers to go coach in college at UNLV? Maybe, according to one report.

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Chicago Bulls v LA Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

After the internet memed Brad Stevens to Indiana University rumors into existence so hard that beat writers asked the Boston Celtics head coach for at least the third time this week if he’d consider leaving his current gig for the college team he grew up rooting for, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN fired off a rare Twitter reply to register his confusion about people seriously thinking any coach would leave the NBA for college.

Two things from that:

  1. LMAO at the stray the Kings took there. Woj always has hard a sharp pen.
  2. What about assistant coaches? Would they leave for college?

That second question is relevant in light of a report from Sam Gordon of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who wrote that UNLV wants to hire current Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd to coach their men’s basketball team:

The Rebels are intrigued by Kidd as a potential replacement for T.J. Otzelberger, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Kidd is an assistant coach with the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, but there’s a belief that he would be interested in the job.

This isn’t the first job that Kidd has been rumored to be considering another job during his time with the Lakers. Last year the team gave the Knicks permission to interview Kidd before the playoffs had even begun, and Kidd also got interest from the Brooklyn Nets and the New Orleans Pelicans. All three ultimately went in a different direction, but it’s pretty clear that a) Kidd is interested in becoming a head coach again and b) that the devil works hard, but Kidd’s agent works harder (at least when it comes to getting his client’s name out there).

But would Kidd, who has been around the NBA almost non-stop since being drafted in 1994, really consider a college job? It sounds like the answer is “maybe,” considering that he reportedly showed interest in it right before the Lakers made him the highest-paid assistant in the NBA in the summer of 2019:

Kidd, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, was interested in the job in 2019 when Otzelberger was hired from South Dakota State to replace Marvin Menzies. Kidd didn’t have a college degree at that time but does now, according to two people familiar with the hiring process.

Why is that last part relevant? Well, Gordon reports that “UNLV requires coaches to have at least a bachelor’s degree.” So first of all, congrats to Jason Kidd for — apparently — finding time to finish his degree during a pandemic and while serving as an assistant coach for the defending champions. That is a legitimately incredible achievement.

But the potentially more relevant part there? Gordon citing “two people familiar with the hiring process.” Does that... imply that a hiring process has already begun? That UNLV has already at least checked with Kidd’s camp that he finished his degree? To be fair, that probably isn’t a long check-in process, but it does seem that this is at least a partnership that both sides are willing to look into.

So while there certainly is a place for Kidd in the pros, given how much his bosses have raved about his importance to the team, maybe he will buck the trend Woj was referring to and head back to the unpaid professional amateur ranks. And while normally this is where we’d write that Kidd would be unlikely to leave in the middle of the season regardless, in a year when Chris Finch bucked traditional norms to jump from an assistant coach on the Toronto/Tampa Bay Raptors to become Minnesota Timberwolves head coach midseason, it’s pretty much impossible to rule any scenarios out.

We’ll see what happens, but this was certainly an unexpected rumor.

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