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Deron Williams: Lawrence Frank's departure spurred Jason Kidd's development

Julian Finney

An anonymous coach told Howard Beck "the worst coach in the league." He was called "bush league" by Stan Van Gundy after spilling water to gain a timeout ... for which he was fined $50,000. Adrian Wojnarowski suggested "an inability to manage crisis and keep the respect of his players" adding that Mikhail Prokhorov could dump him as he did Kiki Vandeweghe, Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo.

But Prokhorov had his back and after a blowout loss, called from Moscow to give him a peptalk and offer him some advice, quoting a Russian novelist, "Don't read Soviet papers before breakfast." It had the double effect of backing Kidd and dissing the critics.

Things have changed after he "simplified" the offense and defense, then running off eight wins in nine games, including victories over the Thunder (in Oklahoma), the Heat (in double overtime), the Warriors (ending their  10-game winning streak), the Hawks (twice on two different continents) and the Knicks (with fans chanting "Broook-lyn" at the Garden) ... none of them wearing a tie. Now, Mirza Teletovic is comparing the coach who gave him a chance to Gregg Popovich and Prokhorov (and his No. 2 Dmitry Razumov) are looking oh-so-smug.

Kidd is not just succeeding on the court. He is becoming a leader inside the organization, say team insiders, pushing ideas. He has become increasingly close to Russian ownership, who after all promotied his hiring. He dismissed critics thusly: "I didn't know I had any critics."

What changed things?  Deron Williams says it was the departure of Lawrence Frank, who Kidd "re-assigned" in December.  Williams said. "So now I think he's coaching the way he wants to and doing things the way he wants to so that's what you're seeing.

"I think you see him putting his footprint on the game a little bit more, especially lately," Williams added. "He's done a great job. He's learning on the job, and we knew that coming in. But he's doing a great job, especially now."

Kidd faces another milestone Friday night, going up against the team and organization that he helped lead to his only NBA championship as a player, the Mavericks. Rick Carlisle, one of Kidd's biggest supporters when he was hired, can be expected to say, "I told you so."  Things could change again, of course, but the Nets look like a team playing with a certain togetherness. That was Kidd's signature when he played and again now.