By Joe Giglio
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New York basketball is in a state of disarray.
While the Knicks are reeling in Manhattan, the spotlight of disappointment is shining brightest in Brooklyn. After all, with a $180 million payroll, five All-Star starters and an owner expecting to compete for a championship this season, there is no margin for error with the new-look Nets.
After dropping three consecutive games, headlined by another listless performance in Charlotte, the Nets head into the weekend with questions about health, chemistry and coaching.
Concerns about injuries to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, the two best players on the roster, are legitimate. If those players can’t return to 100 percent soon, the roster won’t have a chance to become what it was destined to be. Even if Joe Johnson, the third best player on the team, can carry the group through injuries, like he did last week in Phoenix, he’s not good enough to do it over a long period.
Chemistry, considering the different lineup combinations that have been used through just 11 games, is also an area of worry. It was widely assumed that the Nets would need 10-15 games to learn how to play together, but that timeline continues to be pushed back as stars and role players miss significant chunks of regular-season time.
Yet, despite all the worry and concern surrounding the Brooklyn Nets, the coaching of Jason Kidd should be immune from negative banter. Of course, due to the sky-high expectations of this season and Kidd’s brilliance as an on-court leader, it hasn’t been. Earlier this week, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report was told by an NBA scout that Kidd “does nothing” and is totally deferring to his assistant coaches, Lawrence Frank and John Welch. Per Beck’s reporting:
“He doesn’t do anything,” said the scout. “He doesn’t make calls. John Welch does all the offense. Lawrence does all the defense. … I don’t know what Kidd does. I don’t think you can grade him and say he’s bad. You can give him an incomplete.”
If that assessment is accurate — as hard as it is to believe — it’s not a precursor to Kidd’s full head-coaching tenure. Instead, it demonstrates how much the former great point guard has taken on so quickly. He may not be ready for everything this job entails, but counting him out, after less than 10 full games behind the bench, is ridiculous.
Over the course of Kidd’s career, he routinely profiled as the smartest and most cerebral player on the court. When his honeymoon period ends behind the bench, he is more than capable of showing those same traits from in the huddle and on the sidelines.
The gift that separated Kidd from most of his on-court peers — vision — is what will eventually make him a very good head coach in Brooklyn. Simply put, he saw the game, and still does, better than most that have ever been around basketball. Losing three straight games doesn’t change that. Disappointing road losses to lottery-bound teams like Charlotte and Orlando doesn’t change that.
As the losses have mounted, Kidd’s competence has been questioned. He may not be ready for everything the NBA coaching ranks have asked of him yet, but his pedigree, work ethic and basketball acumen are way too prolific to expect failure.
If the Nets continue to struggle, feel free to point out injuries and issues with chemistry, but give the head coach a chance to get his feet wet before declaring that he can’t do the job. Before long, past statements about competence could prove to be very, very wrong.
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