The pieces were in place for an epic escape. A dire situation handicapped by an ironclad contract that was set to detonate anytime the Brooklyn Nets reached an under .500 record. Yet somehow, someway the hero escaped. No this is not a new trailer for a Snake Plissken movie, but there was definitely a snake involved.
As you may know now by headlines that have dominated SportsCenter, Jason Kidd, the coach, was essentially traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for two second-round draft picks after a power grab had left feelings toward Kidd politely said as seething. The Nets, left in shock and anger after Kidd’s attempt to snatch more organizational say-so, were all too happy to bid adieu to the one time face of the franchise.
I want to emphasize in no way am I calling what Kidd heroic. He had a franchise that was indebted to him for his years of service on the court — a franchise that in New Jersey never experienced lasting success until he came aboard. They were the only organization waiting for their prodigal son to come home and coach them into a new millennium, and he turned out to be Judas. That being said, even Judas had his reasons.
The Nets’ basketball operations sunk the franchise in a $144 million hole last year. Trades to compete now set the franchise at a New York Yankee-like luxury tax number of $87 million. Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who came in promising to win a championship in five years, thought that the classic George Steinbrenner approach of spending your way to one would work. Yet, the future of the Nets organization is bleak.
The franchise point guard Deron Williams‘ best contribution last season was allowing veteran journeyman Shaun Livingston to start. Other franchise centerpiece Brook Lopez is the best scoring big man in the game, but he only averages around 25 games per season. The Beats By Dre commercial of Kevin Garnett being called washed up was totally inaccurate; he is dry cleaned and Paul Pierce is a free agent. Couple that with that Boston owns all of their first-round picks over the next couple of years and you can see how Kidd’s perception of his contract detonating could ring true at any moment.
With Kidd’s concerns mounting over the future of the franchise, he brought his concerns to management about getting a new general manager who would have more of a forward thinking mindset. His concerns were rebuffed as normal coach speak which began his romance with the Bucks’ new owner and former financial advisor Marc Lasry.
The tragedy of this situation is that we are supposed to believe that a point guard who always thought four plays in advance just clumsily stumbles into a home with the Bucks after the Nets castigated him. In Milwaukee, he now has a young team he can mold. He has two 19-year-olds, one who can be one of the great scorers of his generation in Jabari Parker and the other who just shot up four inches over the fall in Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the Nets, he has iso-Joe and pray one of the starters helps out.
Kidd escaped with his reputation having a Benedict Arnold-type stigma associated with his name. He may just be the first person on the Titanic to notice the boat is sinking.