Josh Newman, Field ReporterA big part of the preseason is learning and getting better in all facets of the game, and that includes the coaching end of things.
Jason Kidd is four months removed from a playing career that will land him in the Hall of Fame. He has zero coaching experience at any level and after the Nets hired him, they surrounded him with a strong cast of assistants to help ease the burden of being a rookie head coach.As the calendar moves inside two weeks until the revamped Nets open at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 30, the early returns on Kidd’s coaching acumen are increasingly positive.
“From a leadership perspective, he’s very comfortable,” rookie power forward Mason Plumlee told SNY Nets following the Nets’ 82-80 victory over the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. “When stuff needs to be said, he says it. As far as huddles and pregame, postgame, he’s always handled that very well, even going back to Orlando (Summer League). He’s at the helm, he’s in control and yes, he’s very comfortable.”
Kidd’s trial-by-fire as a head coach began at the Orlando Summer League back in July. During Summer League practice in East Rutherford before the team departed for Florida, and even during the early portion of their time down there, Kidd was deferring to his assistants, namely Lawrence Frank. As this preseason has gotten rolling, that appears to be happening less.
On Tuesday with the game tied at 80 with 15.7 seconds left, Kidd led the huddle during a 20-second timeout. The result was a play that saw Chris Johnson come off a screen along the baseline, curl to the basket, receive a pass from Jorge Gutierrez and draw a foul on the way up. Johnson hit both free throws to provide the final margin.
“Every day, I think he’s learning just as much as we’re learning from him,” Joe Johnson said. “Obviously, this is his first year, so he’s learning on the fly. Every day, he’s coming in with something different, something new, so yeah, he’s just trying to feel us out I think.”
Kidd went a little longer with the starters on Tuesday than he had in the previous three preseason games. Paul Pierce played a preseason-high 27 minutes, while Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche all played at least 24 minutes.
Kidd’s next job is how to go about Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat, a game that figures to be intense between both starting units early. Additionally, there is the added story line of bad blood between the Heat and former Celtics Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“We’re just gonna keep building and so, we won’t make the decision until we meet on Thursday morning” Kidd said when asked how much the regular would play. “Again, we’re not healthy, we’re not whole, so we also gotta understand we want to be healthy and ready to go come Oct. 30.”