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Rival execs think Jason Kidd ends up coaching the Phoenix Suns

Former Sun Jason Kidd is looking for work. The Suns are looking for a coach. Hmmm....

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kidd is living in Phoenix as he waits for his next NBA destination. The former Suns guard who went on to several NBA Finals, including a ring with Dallas, has just been named to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

He’s also been coach of two different NBA teams in the mere five years since his retirement from basketball, taking his teams to the playoffs three times in his four full seasons as a coach, before being fired a couple of months ago by Milwaukee.

And now rumors are growing that he’s targeting the Phoenix Suns job.

Zach Lowe had Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck on his podcast this week after Beck wrote a long feature on Jason Kidd, who now lives in Paradise Valley.

Read Beck’s wonderful feature here. Kidd riffs on Brooklyn, Milwaukee and what comes next for him.

And then there’s this, from Howard Beck, dropped during the podcast:

Howard Beck: Yes, I have heard buzz. And in fact, when I asked a few people as I was talking to them about Jason in general, and I said, ‘Where could you see him ending up?’ And two people, in two very different walks of NBA life, both said Phoenix immediately.

Anyone else’s hair on the back of their neck just stand on end?

To be sure, Kidd is a great salesman of himself. He talked himself into the Nets job immediately after retirement, going from know-nothing coach whose top assistant gave him on the job training before being forced out in a crazy in-season move. As the Kidd power play grew, so did the Nets’ winning percentage. They started 10-21 but then roared to 34-17 finish and made the second round before bowing out of the playoffs.

And then he was gone. Poof!

He quit the Nets and took the top job in Milwaukee, replete with personnel control, burning bridge after bridge in his wake.

In Milwaukee, he’s been credited with helping develop Giannis Antetokuompo into a star and taking Milwaukee to the playoffs with a 41-41 record as a young team on the rise. Their defensive rating that year was 4th overall, which helped them hang on despite a slow finish after swapping Brandon Knight for, but then later benching, Michael Carter-Williams at the trade deadline.

But then it went downhill in Milwaukee too. The team’s progression stalled. They won only 33 games the next year after signing Greg Monroe to a max contract only to realize his defensive shortcomings outweighed his offensive production (everyone else already knew this). They finished 23rd on defense and never solved the offensive issues.

They rebounded to win 42 games the next year despite losing Jabari Parker and Kris Middleton for long stretches. Kidd found a role for Monroe off the bench, and maximized the value of second round pick Malcolm Brogdon, who won the ROY. Still, their D was only 19th and offense 13th, and they didn’t get out of the first round. They gave Mirza Teletovic a bunch of money, but then buried him on the bench for his defense.

Then this season happened. After constantly blaming the team’s lackluster performance on the young players doing dumb things, the 23-22 Bucks fired Kidd. He blamed “kids” but the only player in his rotation younger than 25 years old was Giannis, now 23 and an MVP candidate. So who was he referring to?

Here’s Beck:

Team officials cringed as Kidd repeatedly blamed the Bucks’ youth for their struggles—an assertion he repeated in mid-January, just days before his dismissal.

”It was constantly, ‘Hey, it was the players’ fault—they’re not doing this, they’re not doing that, they’re too young,’” a Bucks source says.

Sources both inside and outside the organization say Kidd had a tendency to fall in and out of love with players—e.g., demanding a trade for Michael Carter-Williams one day, burying him the next.

Team officials had also grown concerned that Kidd’s demanding, old-school style had worn thin. Players were tuning Kidd out—or already had last season, according to one source with close ties to the team.

Kidd was “putting in massive hours,” a Bucks source says, “and he expected the players” to do the same. “Jason was driving the team a bit hard. And that would have been fine if there was really good results.”

The guy who hired him in Milwaukee - John Hammond — left for Orlando in the offseason, and the new top executive — Jon Horst — is the one who finally cut the cord on Kidd.

Now Kidd reportedly wants to come to the Suns. Does anyone have faith in Robert Sarver’s ability to fend off Kidd’s sales pitch?

Imagine Sarver hearing these words in a job interview (from Beck’s article):

”When you are learning how to win, it’s going to hurt,” Kidd says to Beck. “I told the players that. I showed them the piece of metal that’s in my hip”—a replica of a piece inserted during his 2015 hip surgery. “You’re going to give a piece of your body to this game if you want to be good. … The money, the fame, whatever comes with it is great. But it does hurt to win.”

Kidd cites Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and the injuries and surgeries they endured to become champions.

”So, ‘driving them hard?’ I think, working,” Kidd says. “There’s nothing wrong with work. If you want to be great, you have to work. If you want to be good, you have to work. If you want to just be average, or below average, then you don’t have to work.”

Or this

“When people are saying that I’m old-school, it’s not that I’m old-school,” he says. “It’s what it takes to win. And I think we’ve lost a little of that with the younger generation of ‘everybody gets a trophy.’”

The “hard-ass” charges seem to befuddle Kidd—”Because I don’t smile enough during the game? Or do I not smile enough during practice?”—and he insists, “It’s just competition.”

These kind of quotes got him all-powerful roles in two cities already, delivered okay results with two totally different teams, eventually souring all relationships before leaving town.

Read the rest of that Beck article. My god, I don’t even see how the Suns won’t fall in love with these comments by Kidd.

John Hammond is still a fan of Kidd.

“A relentless worker,” says former Bucks general manager John Hammond, who left Milwaukee last summer to take the same position in Orlando. “If you ask me, would I work with him again? My answer would be yes. Because I want to win.”

Maybe Hammond hires Kidd in Orlando, when they fire Frank Vogel this summer for a really bad season of regression.

But Kidd moved to Phoenix while he waits for a new job, not Orlando.

Is a playoff appearance worth an acerbic relationship between the coach and everyone around him? If you thought Watson got mean and weird with the team and with the public, you haven’t seen anything yet. He’s iced out players too. Good players.

Do we want that with the Suns?


Do you want Jason Kidd coaching the Suns?

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