With the stunning news Saturday night that Nets head coach Jason Kidd may not be long for the borough of Brooklyn, the team is left in an unexpected lurch.
Kidd made a power play to take over complete control of personnel decisions and was rebuffed. The resulting rift between Kidd and ownership looks to irreparable. So if Kidd does end up in Milwaukee, or elsewhere, the Nets are going to be in need of a new head coach.
And according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, “the Russians are done with Kidd,” so they better start looking for a new coach immediately.
Metro bounces a few ideas as to who could replace Kidd.
1. Mark Jackson
The man who many Knicks fans wanted to replace Mike Woodson — instead of Derek Fisher, who was eventually hired — might be the most-desired Nets head coach too. Jackson is a Brooklyn native and went to Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene. He also played for St. John’s and with the Knicks from 1987 to 1992 and again in 2001-02. His New York basketball roots are unquestioned. He was also successful in molding Golden State into a Western Conference power during his tenure from 2011 to 2014. But his relationship with ownership soured and he was fired despite a 51-31 season in 2013-14. He’ll want a lot of money from Brooklyn and a lot of power. We’ll see how ownership reacts to someone with a similar personality to Kidd.
2. Tyronn Lue
Lue just signed a deal with the Cavaliers to become the highest-paid assistant coach in the league under first-time NBA coach David Blatt. The 10-year NBA veteran point guard has developed a reputation as the next big thing in coaching. He may have been an outside candidate for the Knicks’ job, but they zeroed in on Fisher after Steve Kerr turned them down. It might be complicated to lure him away from that newly signed deal with Cleveland, but he is an exciting name. Lue spent time working with Doc Divers in Boston and followed him to the Clippers. Should the Nets care to re-sign Paul Pierce, Lue might be a way to lure him back and keep Kevin Garnett from retiring. Maybe the former point guard could unlock the puzzle that is Deron Williams’ recent career as well.
3. Ettore Messina
If the Nets are looking to get adventurous, Messina might be just the perfect candidate. The 54-year-old from Italy is one of the greatest European coaches of all time. He’s won four Euroleague championships (1998, 2001, 2006, 2008) in his career. He won the first two as head coach of Virtus Bologna in the Italian League, but won his most recent titles as the man in charge of CSKA Moscow. He briefly left CSKA Moscow, but returned in 2012. He left again this month, and has reportedly discussed joining the Spurs as an assistant coach. As the pre-eminent coach in the Russian League — where he’s won the title five times, including in 2013 — you can bet Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is very familiar with him. If anyone is going to take a chance on the first European NBA head coach, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Prokhorov be that person.
4. Mike D’Antoni
You can bet Nets fans wouldn’t be too keen on seeing the former Knicks head coach take over across the East River. But he’s certainly an option out there after being fired by the Lakers. He had tremendous success in Phoenix, and was saddled with terrible rosters in New York and Los Angeles, so it’s not crazy to think he deserves another chance so quickly. The roster as it’s constructed would not be ideal for D’Antoni’s system, however. The team is filled with older players and plodders (Brook Lopez, specifically) who fit into more of a half-court system. D’Antoni wants to run, and we’re not even sure how Williams’ ankles will hold up playing a slow-down game.
5. George Karl
There’s no question Karl is the opposite of Lue. He’s 63 years old, has coached five different teams and he won’t earn you raves if hired. But he wins basketball games. The 2013 NBA Coach of the Year, after which he was fired by Denver, has said he wants another shot in the league. He’s made the playoffs in 22 of the 25 years he’s coached, but he’s never won a title. He is also fully recovered from a bout with cancer in 2010. Karl knows how to coach and he knows how to coach veterans. Unlike D’Antoni, Karl’s system will work much better with the personnel in place. But if you are looking for a sexy hire, this is not it.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.