Less than two weeks after ending his long, All-Star career, Jason Kidd acknowledged he has “a lot to learn about coaching” Thursday as he took the Brooklyn Nets job despite having no experience leading a team from the bench.
Now a point guard who was all about assists in his 19 years on the court will be looking for a little help.
“Nervous,” the 40-year-old Kidd said when asked how he felt. “I’m a rookie. I go from being one of the oldest players in the league to now a rookie coach. I’m very excited about this challenge. We have a special opportunity to achieve a championship-caliber team.”
Kidd retired earlier this month after one season with the New York Knicks, and the Nets decided to hire him to replace P.J. Carlesimo — a move that comes with some obvious risks since Kidd has never been a head coach.
“Jason Kidd embodied everything that we were looking for,” Nets general manager Billy King said. “One thing people always thought about Jason is he was somebody who always worked hard and that’s a sort of thing I think will translate into coaching. Does he have a learning curve? Yes. I think if you know Jason, he doesn’t take something and want to be good at it, he wants to be great.”
Kidd is rejoining a franchise he led to consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002-03 when they played in New Jersey. He spent 6½ seasons with the Nets, averaging 14.6 points, 9.1 assists and 7.2 rebounds, and is their career leader in numerous statistical categories.
He is second on the NBA’s career list in assists and steals, won an NBA title with Dallas and has two Olympic gold medals.
Terms of the deal that made Kidd the 18th coach in franchise history were not disclosed.
“This is a great challenge, so I’m looking very forward to this,” Kidd said. “Yes, I have a lot to learn about coaching, but when I played I felt I was an extension of the coach.”
Carlesimo wasn’t retained after leading the Nets into the playoffs, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round. He went 35-19 after replacing Avery Johnson, who was fired in December.
Kidd said he was also contacted by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to offer him the opportunity to rejoin that franchise and learn the business operations. But he interviewed with the Nets on Monday and they chose him as their coach after talking with Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw.
“In my meeting with him he talked about our team,” King said of his discussion with Kidd. “He knew the personnel. When I talked about how he would use them in certain ways, how he would defense, how he would operate offensively, he said, ‘What I want to do, I want to get up-tempo, I want to get the ball moving.’”
Kidd, who has a close friendship with Nets point guard Deron Williams, said his message to players will be simple: “Understand you’ve got to play hard, you’ve got to play defense and we’re going to grow together. That’s what’s going to make it special.”
He also credited Golden State coach Mark Jackson’s success in his first year as coach of the Warriors for possibly playing a role in Brooklyn’s decision to hire him.
“He did give guys the opportunity, maybe crack the door open for guys who were playing to be able to go into coaching because of the success that he’s had,” Kidd said. “There are guys that are examples out there that have done it. Hopefully I can carry the torch and have the same success.”
Kidd also has a court date next month on Long Island stemming from a drunken-driving arrest last year. He has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor DWI and is due in Southampton Town Court on July 11, according to the Suffolk County prosecutors’ office.