Lately, the Milwaukee Bucks franchise has taken significant strides to move the last place, rudderless organization (that was perennially rumored to be an eventual candidate for relocation) in a positive direction. First, Herb Kohl sold the team to an enthusiastic new ownership group. Last week, the Bucks solidified their future by drafting Jabari Parker with the second overall pick. Today, a team that was trending upward with its front office decision took one massive step backward by trading its 2015 and 2019 second round picks to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the coaching services of Jason Kidd.
In his first year as a coach, Kidd led the 2013-14 Nets to a 44-38 record (including a 34-7 regular season finish), and into the second round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the rookie coach and his narrowly above-.500 performance were also angling for front office control that would allow him to make decisions regarding basketball personnel. When that attempt failed miserably, Kidd looked to former Nets minority owner, his ex-financial adviser, and current Bucks co-owner Marc Lansry to let him fill Milwaukee’s coaching spot—despite it already being filled by Larry Drew. As thanks to his lame duck guidance of the worst Bucks team in franchise history last year, Drew (who has accomplished much more as a head coach) was unceremoniously fired when the trade was finalized today. He will be paid for the final two years of his contact.
Even when trying to discount his well-publicized off-court issues like an OWI conviction and repeated allegations of spousal abuse, Kidd’s thoughtless grasp for Nets control, and the gall to use what little leverage he had left to run to his old pal to be given a job that was already filled is an awful first impression to bestow upon Bucks fans. Not to mention, his coaching acumen has been suspect to this point.
Worse yet, this suggests the new Bucks ownership group is going to be hands-on, and likely to use its authority to override decisions made by actual personnel. At this point, Kidd will only serve as Milwaukee’s head coach. However, it seems like Kidd might soon be given the opportunity to wield a bigger hammer in terms of front office decisions, which will not bode well for the Bucks. And if he doesn’t get his way, fans have no reason not to think Kidd won’t burn yet another bridge after crossing it to yet another unearned opportunity he’s fooled the right people into granting him. In either scenario, Milwaukee loses.
Kidd was an outstanding player. He’s an unquestioned Hall Of Famer who was capable of doing things on the court few others could. Yet he’s shown himself to be a poor leader who’s selfish, tactless, and is capable of doing things off the court few others would. If the goal was to get the Bucks more national attention with this dramatic, high-profile acquisition, then mission accomplished. If the trade with done in effort to advance the ongoing process of organizational renovation by installing the coach of the future immediately, the Bucks fucked up huge. This is going to blow up one way or another. The only questions are how bad will it end and how much will Milwaukee be set back in the aftermath.