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If you thought the Bucks received a tremendous amount of national publicity for the selection of Jabari Parker, you are correct. Amazingly though, that level of coverage is now being eclipsed by the rumor that “current” Nets coach Jason Kidd is interviewing (or has interviewed) for the position of President of Basketball Operations (“POBO”) with Milwaukee.
We’ll examine the pros and cons of this situation from the perpsective of one of the cornerstones that this site is built on, namely the goal that the Milwaukee Bucks locate and hire their version of Ron Wolf, the man the Packers turned to in 1991 to change the team culture and turn the operation around.
Before we begin, a few housekeeping items. President of Basketball Operations is considered a higher title than General Manager. For some teams their POBO also serves as their GM. All indications from media reports are that Kidd is interviewing for the POBO position and not necessarily for the position of Head Coach. Kidd being offered and accepting the POBO position though wouldn’t necessarily preclude him from being the coach either now or in the future. It just would be an unusual situation as most POBO’s around the league are not their team’s head coach.
Are the Kidd Stories Real or is the New York Media creating something here?
We’ll let the Brewhoop Crew provide their excellent summary and documentation on the different stories out there, but after reading most of these reports the past twenty-four hours, there appear to be three potential scenarios taking place:
Scenario One – Jason Kidd is personal friends with Marc Lasry, and as such Lasry perhaps mentioned to him that “We’d love to have you as part of the Bucks!” at some point in the past. Kidd relied on this and decided to use it as leverage for a better financial and power situation with the Nets. In this scenario, the Bucks have little interest in Kidd but Kidd has interest in the Bucks.
Scenario Two – There is legitimate interest on the part of the Bucks to hire Kidd in some capacity, but they are still interviewing other candidates and Kidd may or may not be the next POBO or coach of the Bucks.
Scenario Three – This is a done deal and Kidd will be rolled out as the new POBO as early as tomorrow. Much as Scott Skiles tried to get himself fired by the Bucks in May of 2012 when he cleaned out his office at season’s end and went AWOL, Kidd is now pushing the levers he needs to be freed of the remaining three years he has on his contract with the Nets in order to get to Milwaukee.
We really aren’t sure which scenario above is accurate at the moment, however, we are of a mind to discount Scenario One given that there has been significant media reporting from the NYC media that the Bucks have already been given permission to talk to Kidd and perhaps even the idea of compensation in the form of a draft pick or money to the Nets has been discussed.
Should the Bucks Want Jason Kidd as POBO?
The unofficial internet sentiment seems to be running against this. The Bucks fans at the RealGM forum are 80% against versus 20% for hiring Kidd based on the current results of a poll running there. Additionally most of the NBA media have weighed in on Twitter with snarky comments about Kidd, with NBA.com writer Steve Aschburner not pulling any punches:
Bucks should trade Jabari Parker now — if they want buzz kill, might as well go big. Kidd as POBO a rotten idea. http://t.co/KIIb9dqUYM
— Steve Aschburner (@AschNBA) June 29, 2014
So, would it be the end of the world if Kidd were hired? Let’s look at the pros and cons of the situation.
PROS OF HIRING KIDD
Player Respect: Say what you will about Kidd, he does appear to have the attention and respect of most of the players in the NBA. On the court Kidd was a competitive demon who played the game the right way and he’s garnered the respect of many. From the standpoint of bringing “street cred” to the Milwaukee Bucks, he’d bring quite a bit of it. This could be helpful if the team is looking to bring in free agents in the future, especially high profile free agents.
Coaching Skills: After a terrible start, Kidd got the Nets pointed in the right direction and made a number of creative moves last year to get the team to the second round of the playoffs. If we were talking about Kidd as coach, his track record last year at New Jersey would be a positive
General Manager Skills: This really is a blank slate. The only small smidgeon of his player evaluation skills we have to go on is the rumor that he wanted the Nets to trade Brook Lopez for Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyosova according to Nets Daily:
“One of the final straws for Nets ownership came when Kidd advocated for a trade with the Bucks that would sent Brook Lopez and Mirza Teletovic to Milwaukee for the deeply troubled Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. The suggestion, mostly about Kidd’s belief that Lopez couldn’t fit in his system, was considered and rejected by the Nets brass.”
We actually think the deal above speaks in favor of Kidd’s player personnel skills. Brook Lopez is owed another $32 million on his contract the next two years and has been ineffective and injury prone. While he can put up some compelling offensive statistics, the Nets actually played much better last year when Lopez went down with an injury. If we were running the Nets, we probably would have made that deal also. While Sanders and Ilyasova are overpaid and have had their own issues, they have proven in the past to be good contributors to winning basketball. We’d view that potential trade as a positive check-mark for Kidd’s player evaluation skills.
Bringing Excitement to Milwaukee: Kidd would clearly electrify the town. He’s a charismatic personality and as the Milwaukee Bucks search for a front office personality to make the team relevant both locally and nationally, Kidd would fit the bill. Most successful NBA teams have a number of focal points, and for years the Bucks have had either none or only a somewhat less effective one, such as Michael Redd. Giannis, Parker and Kidd together would certainly give the media plenty to report on.
CONS OF HIRING KIDD
No Experience Running an NBA Team: We’ve written at length at this site about the fact that most successful sports franchises are run by a smart and powerful GM, a “Renaissance Man” who understands the modern player, the salary cap and team dynamics. There really is little evidence to go on that Kidd is a savant as it relates to business issues, public relations issues and salary cap issues that are essential to being a successful POBO of an NBA team.
Kidd is volatile: The reason many media members and front office types are weighing in quickly against a Kidd hire is because Kidd has burned bridges wherever he’s been. This began early in his basketball career and has continued on as documented by MIke Vaccaro in a NY Post article published last night:
“But this isn’t somebody else. This is Jason Kidd. And if this appalling power play shocks Mikhail Prokhorov and his Russian ownership cabinet, then shame on them.
Because even if it seems bold and brazen even by Kidd’s remarkably passive-aggressive standards, it’s simply a standard move from his time-honored (and dog-eared) playbook.
Goodness, Kidd’s been doing this since his freshman year at Cal, when he led a mutiny that wound up costing Lou Campanelli his job with 10 games left in the season.”
The same fiery competitiveness that made Kidd a Hall of Fame caliber player has been his biggest weakness as it relates to his ability to stay in one place or be able to forge a long-term partnership with the coaches he’s played under. Add in a number of run-in’s with the law in his personal life, and it makes for a legitimate question as to whether Kidd is the type of individual you entrust at the top of your franchise.
A reversal of the positive Bucks local publicity the past two-months: Marc Lasry and Wes Edens have done an amazing job the past 60-days in changing the narrative as it relates to the Bucks. They’ve hit every PR note correctly, with the peak coming last Thursday night in the drafting of Jabari Parker. This momentum is at least temporarily at risk should they elect to hire Kidd. We would not discount the possibility that a Kidd hire could be very effective for the team from an on-the-court perspective. That said, in New York, any publicity is good publicity, while in Milwaukee that isn’t necessarily the case. Kidd along with Lasry and Edens will need to work overtime to convince the locals this was a smart move.
If it turns out to be true that Kidd being hired as POBO is a done deal, I think our initial reaction would be that this was the first faux pas of Lasry and Edens. Our reasoning relates back to a major mistake Herb Kohl made in May 2005 when he decided to retain Terry Porter as head coach and had then General Manager Larry Harris hold a press conference with Porter, where Harris re-affirmed Porter as coach and said that the two would “sink or swim” together. Three weeks later after the Bucks won the 2005 draft lottery, Kohl fired Porter, making Harris and the organization look like a laughingstock around the league.
The Kidd situation is a bit different, but there is a common theme. This past Thursday and Friday, John Hammond and Larry Drew participated in a number of high profile public events with Jabari Parker. Twenty-four hours later they are bombarded with the possibility that Jason Kidd will be coming in to perhaps replace both of them, maybe even with himself.
We are not huge fans of the performance of John Hammond the past seven years and think the new owners should seriously consider replacing him. Then using best practices, allow the new GM to hire whoever he thinks is the best coach for the Bucks, which may or may not be Larry Drew. All that said, replacing Hammond and Drew should have been done well before the draft or at a minimum, Hammond and Drew should not have been allowed to conduct these wonderful PR events with Jabari Parker. If they are both replaced tomorrow by Kidd or if Kidd is hired to then fire them, it makes the Bucks ownership group look clumsy and brings back memories of the Kohl era that we all thought we just left.
The other incongruity we see with a Kidd hire is that it might run against the proclamations made by Lasry and Edens that the Bucks are going to be in a long-term rebuild using young players and draft picks. Kidd may or may not being in agreement with that approach, however we’d be skeptical if he was, since that approach requires extreme patience. Most former all-star players were all-stars precisely because they were so competitive. They do not suffer fools gladly nor do they like to lose. We are not sure if Kidd has the temperament to patiently coach youngsters while enduring through another 18-30 win season or two. We’d have some concern that Kidd would want to remake the roster with higher-priced veterans on the downside in an effort to be competitive.
If Kidd is indeed hired as POBO, we’d give him the benefit of the doubt. He’d be a high-risk, high-reward hire who certainly would bring attention to the franchise. That said, we also wonder if there aren’t other candidates out there with equally promising credentials that might either have more requisite experience or offer a greater chance at long-term stability. The next few days are going to be interesting to say the least.