clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Analysis Did the Nets really want to fire Jason Kidd a year ago?

New, comments
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kidd seems convinced --or wants to convince others-- that the Nets wanted to fire him last December as the team struggled and rumors mounted, one in particular from Adrian Wojnarowski, that such conversations were taking place between Moscow and Brooklyn. Quoting league sources, Woj reported that there was "strong consideration" given to firing Kidd near the end of December.

But how real was that?  It's hard to determine precisely where the truth lies, with all the raw emotions out there, but there are some indicators that Kidd's job was not as insecure as he would suggest.

Again on Wednesday night, Kidd was asked about whether reports that the Nets were considering making a change last season was a big reason he left.  He responded...

"I think it really helped me to see what I was dealing with, what type of people I was dealing with. To give me a fair chance to coach a team that had injuries, we make a big trade, but understanding that they did want to fire me in December, so I think it just shows what type of people I was dealing with."

Does that fly?  Lets start with the logic that for the Nets to fire Kidd, after firing Kike Vandeweghe, Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo in a four year period, may very well have been suicidal for the organization.  Prospective coaches, particularly good coaches, could not have been impressed by ownership's historic lack of patience. The Nets,in fact, were trying to distance themselves from that reputation when they went after Kidd.. Ownership's thinking was that he would become the Nets' Gregg Popovich, a long-time hire with a historic connection to the franchise.

Moreover, Mikhail Prokhorov revealed in March that he had called Kidd to offer him a pep talk.  Even if Billy King wanted Kidd gone, as Kidd seems to intimate, perhaps as a way of saving his own job, only Prokhorov could fire Kidd.

In March, Prokhorov talked about the content of the call and Kidd confirmed it. Here's how we reported it.

Prokhorov revealed that at one point he called Kidd to give him a pep talk, quoting a Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov, as saying, "Never read Soviet papers before breakfast." Kidd was asked what it meant to get a phone call from Prokhorov telling him not to worry about critics. "I didn't know I had critics," deadpanned Kidd, who added, "Mikhail is the best. He has a great sense of humor, but he wants to win."

Prokhorov also told reporters at the time that he understood the way things work.

"I'm realistic in sports. We have a lot of new players. We have unfortunately a lot of injuries, so it's not an excuse. But what, for me, is important is what was atmosphere of the team. It was positive, it was full support for Jason Kidd. That means, like, we need to wait."

Prokhorov also said publicly at the time that Kidd's job was never in trouble. Moreover, a Prokhorov confidante told NetsDaily that the Nets owner had spoken highly of Kidd privately after talking with him in London where the Nets were playing the Hawks.

"My instincts in hiring him were right," the Nets owner told the person, who relayed the conversation to NetsDaily.  "He’s going to be a great coach.  He’s another person since he started.  He’s the real boss now and behaves like a boss."

Prokhorov spoke in English and specifically used the word, "great," said the confidante.

Prokhorov had dispatched his chief sports adviser, Sergey Kushchenko, to New York at one point to find out what was going on.  Kushchenko, who knows Kidd, is one of basketball's most respected executives and is now head of Russia's professional basketball league. He had taken Prokhorov's trust, having tken CSKA Moscow from an also-ran in the Russian league to two Euroleague championships  According to multiple sources, Kushchenko gave Kidd credit for keeping the team together during a difficult time.

Some to seem to accept that the Nets were ready to fire Kidd, but there's enough doubt out there to suggest that Kidd's belief that he was going to be the scapegoat of the $100 million disaster is and was exaggerated.  Kidd does not believe King has a strategic vision and the two did clash on personnel issues, according to sources, but the final decision on his career was going to take place in Moscow ... and in both public and private conversations, Nets insiders say such a decision was never seriously considered.