Acting head coach Mike Miller has earned a look at full-time work with his job since he succeeded David Fizdale, while several assistant coaches – Mike Brown (Warriors), Ime Udoka (76ers ), Pat Delany (Magic) and Chris Fleming (Bulls) – all should be interviewed. They also interviewed Tom Thibodeau, who was once considered one of the top favorites.
One name, however, stood out among the Knicks’ nominees: Jason Kidd. The Hall of Famer spent the last season of his playing career with the Knicks and is now on the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant. He has been largely disappointed as a head coach in his two previous stays with the Brooklyn Nets (44-38) and Milwaukee Bucks (139-152), but the Knicks are not so interested in his results as ‘to the relationships he has forged along the way.
In particular, the Knicks thought Kidd could help them lure Giannis Antetokounmpo to Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2021. They weren’t the first team to think that way – it has been reported that the Lakers had the same idea – and it’s no secret that Giannis admired Kidd.
All of this might not be relevant if Giannis decides to sign Milwaukee again, an attractive option given both the financial incentives and the possibility of competing for a title. But, assuming he reaches free will in 2021, would Kidd’s presence really be enough to convince him to sign with New York?
In January 2018, as the Bucks trod the water and headed for another .500 season, the team fired Kidd. Giannis was clearly on the rise to stardom, but the team was stagnating and his defense was a disaster. By the time he was released, even Kidd knew his time was up.
The idea that Kidd could influence Giannis’ decision as a free agency stems directly from comments and reports the day after his dismissal. Giannis was “devastated,” according to one Chris Sports of Yahoo Sports report.
Giannis offered to make a few calls for the team to reverse the decision, Kidd said in an interview with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
“He called me and said,‘ Coach, it’s not good what they’re going to do, but [they] let you go, “Kidd told ESPN.
Kidd said he replied, “I had a feeling it was going to happen. ”
To which Antetokounmpo replied: “‘ What can I do? I will call the owners, I will call my agent. ”
Kidd said he told her, “There’s nothing you can do. All you can do is tell the truth. That’s all. “
In his first public comments on the layoff, Giannis was effusive of his praise.
“It is a big part of my success in the league,” said Giannis. “I am loyal to the people I work with. I love him as a person. I care about him as a person. ”
“I was only 18 years old. I didn’t even know how the NBA worked. [Kidd’s firing] it hurts a little bit more because he’s been here for 3 ½ years. He trusted me. He put the ball in my hands. He pushed me to be great. ”
Sounds good enough for Kidd, but if we consider that to prove that Giannis would leave the Bucks to reunite with Kidd, we should take into account that Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Milwaukee was not worried about it. .
“Giannis has a good relationship with Kidd,” Wojnarowski said on “SportsCenter.” “He’s a respectful guy. He will be respectful of anyone. But the organization did not see anything that would hurt them in the long term with Giannis. He wants to win. They feel like they have a team that can do better. ”
In other words, winning is the most important. But that does not mean that there is no connection between them. Kidd is the one who put the ball in the hands of Giannis, let him play the leader and helped develop the ball’s handling, passes and vision that made him such a dynamic and dominant player. Kidd was there during Giannis’ training seasons, as the Greek Freak matured as a player and a person. Even now, Giannis has played more games for Kidd than any other coach.
For all the good things Kidd did, however, there were a lot of negatives. He banned Giannis from taking 3s, a term that has shaken the confidence of his young star, and looks even more stupid now than it did then. Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
After Antetokounmpo shot 34.7% of 118 three-point attempts as a rookie, Kidd told him to stop shooting from the outside. This has wreaked havoc on Antetokounmpo.
“I think this is my second year telling me not to shoot the ball,” said Antetokounmpo. “Then my third year, at the end of the year, he told me to shoot the ball a little. In my fourth year, he let me shoot the ball and in my fifth year, he said, ‘You have the green light, do what you want,’ but I was not enough to comfortable. It’s hard. When you don’t shoot, it’s hard to come back [to shooting]. ”
Then there was Kidd’s tough style. Although Giannis admitted that he liked it at the time, he has enough experience to know that this is not the path to long-term success.
” I used to [former Bucks coach] Jason Kidd, “Giannis told Yahoo Sports earlier this season. It was breaking us down, but I was happy. I think I was the only one who accepted this. I came from nothing and worked hard every day. This is what I used to.
“Having Jason Kidd was fun. Obviously, we didn’t make it in the first round, but it’s different. Like, if that’s the middle, Jason Kidd was here and Mike Bud[enholzer] is well there [in coaching philosophy]. They are totally different. Mike Bud wants you to rest, he wants you to stay with your family, but the day we train, he wants you to be there and he wants you to give it your all. ”
On top of that, Kidd never built a team or system that maximizes Giannis’ skills, made the Bucks play a stupid and outdated defense and couldn’t get them out of the first round. With his combination of skill and determination, Giannis would have become an MVP candidate no matter what, but it’s hard to imagine turning Milwaukee into an eternal competitor if he was still stuck with Kidd. At both ends, the Budenholzer’s Bucks have maximized his talent by playing a radically different style.
Also relevant: Giannis said he didn’t like the Knicks for the way they treated his brother Thanasis, and his quotes about not wanting to play in a big market.
As much as Giannis respects and admires Kidd, he is surely intelligent enough to recognize how much his basketball life has been better with Budenholzer. This season, Giannis is likely to win his second MVP and first prize as a defensive player of the year, and Milwaukee has been the best team in the league, at least in the regular season.
Why would he want to go back to the current situation?