If there’s anyone that’s not losing sleep over Brook Lopez’s injury it’s Jason Kidd. Everyone has a selfish piece of mind – some’s folks more so than others. In all the turmoil, though, Kidd has surely looked about his own future in addition to the future of the team. An injury like Brook only provides a little more security for him in his first year as the leader of the franchise.
The most obvious reason for Kidd’s lack of sorrow is it buys him more time. With Lopez and the rest of the rotational players healthy, he needed to deliver wins. With Williams and Lopez healthy, even with others missing action, he needed to deliver wins. A season ending injury to either of his "franchise" players relieves an expectation of success on this coach.
For the remainder of the season, Kidd will have the excuse that he’s missing his most efficient player. That if the rest of the season is disappointing, that’s the reason – not his coaching. On the flip side, if the Nets rally the rest of the way and win the division, it’ll be Kidd that gets a lot of the credit for his adjustments. That’s the obvious reason that he’s not too upset.
Under the surface, and more significant, this injury will lead to personnel changes next year that favor the rookie head coach. When he was hired, he stated he wanted this team to run more. He choose his offensive coordinator from the team that led the league in pace over the past few years. It was clear to most everyone that Kidd wants to play up-tempo – which he is most comfortable teaching the game and style that he played.
The up-tempo game is to Kidd as triangle to Phil and 4-out, 1-in to Popovich and 7-seconds or less to D’antoni. The coaches are successful in their system. The theory that the coach needs to adjust his system to his players holds true when you’re talking about high school basketball – not in the NBA. Successful franchises – those over the long term – typically have successful coaches that employ the same system over the course of time. And it’s not just talent that empowers these coaches to great heights but rather talent players that fit their systems and locker rooms.
Think about all the great players in this league that would not be able to co-exist with Coach Popovich, Rivers, and any good coach. Well run franchises don’t bring these players in and ask their coaches to somehow make it work – mediocre and poorly run franchises are guilty of it, though. Billy King learned his lesson this year in doing that to Jason Kidd. It was a gamble that, in the eyes of the majority of fans, worth taking. But in the upcoming 9 months, the players King brings in will be more aligned to Kidd’s desired system.
Starting tonight, look for the Nets to get out and run a whole lot more. Look for them to play outside-in, opposite the mindset with a post player like Lopez. Personnel-wise, look for Billy to slowly give Kidd players that fit that mold. That doesn’t mean I expect a fire-sale to occur this season, but he won’t sit pat. Paul Pierce is a prime example of said change. He’s a player I don’t expect to be wearing white and black come playoff time. Deron Williams, for all the rumors that have risen lately, will be a part of Kidd’s game plan going forward. Brook Lopez, on the other hand, is unlikely to finish his contract with the Nets. He’s untradeable currently, but once he has value again I expect he’ll be moved.
And the rumors regarding the old, slow-footed post players should be of no interest to the Nets. Carlos Boozer, Zach Randolph, and Pau Gasol are names that were floated but I don’t see these players being Jason Kidd type players. And if the franchise really wants to establish him as a coach over the long term, that’s what King needs to require of every player he wants to dress in black and white.