Billy King: I wanted a leader for coach

USA TODAY Sports

In an interview published Tuesday, Billy King recounts the process that led him to hire Jason Kidd, admitting that he was reluctant at first when "ownership" suggested Kidd as coach, then after one meeting changed his mind.  King also reiterated that he now knows what kind of player Kidd wants and will be pursuing them (no names) this off-season.

"One thing I knew, I wanted a leader," King told Isiah Thomas of NBA TV. "because most people look for guys (with) x's and o's. That's great, but if you can't lead, then x's and o's doesn't work.

"And ownership said, 'what about Jason Kidd?' And I said, 'Nah, he just finished playing. We can't hire him.' They asked 'Will you meet with him?' I said, 'Yeah, I'll meet with him.'  So I'd known Jason. I liked him. I did know he's a leader and he's won everywhere. So we had our first meeting and I walked away from our first meeting and called them and said, 'He might be the one. We're going to meet again.' But I just walked away uplifted."

Although King didn't name who specifically in ownership was pressing for Kidd, team insiders say it was Mikhail Prokhorov's No. 2 and King's main contact in Moscow, Dmitry Razumov. Razumov believed that he saw the next Gregg Popovich in Kidd.

King also recounts for the first time what the advice he got from Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewki, "because I've never made a major decision since I left Duke without talking to him."

Coach K, King says, gave him some interesting advice. "One thing he said was 'I think he'll be great, but don't put him in a box. Don't make him the normal coach. Let his instincts take over. He'll be fine. If you try to make his a traditional coach, and say you got to do it this way or that way, it won't work. You got to let his instincts take over."

King described his thinking on the "reassignment" of Lawrence Frank, saying first priority was to make Kidd successful.

"I had to make a decision, so I said, 'let's reassign him.' He does his report -- I got it this morning -- and he's helping from afar. But I believe in Jason and to give him the ability to be successful, I knew I had to make that decision."

As to why it ulitmately worked, with Kidd winning two Coach of the Month awards in 2014, King said it was simple. "For one (thing), he believed in himself. That's the biggest thing. When he walks into a room, there's confidence. When he's talking to players, there's confidence. He went at KG. KG went back at him. He went at Paul. So he wasn't afraid to challenge guys ... You got a Hall of Famer in KG, in Paul Pierce, 19 years and 16 years.  You challenge them in front of the rest of the team, they all believe, 'Okay, this guy's real.'"

As for the off-season, King smiled as he said, "I love to make trades. It's one thing I love to do.  And having a coach like Jason, he knows what he needs to win now. So I said, 'I look forward to having this off-season with you because now there are guys you're going to want and we can go get, that I know you'll make them successful because you believe in them and they'll believe in you."

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