Josh Newman, Field ReporterEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – You’ll have to excuse Jason Kidd if this coaching things still feels a little new. The future Hall of Fame point guard is only one month removed from retiring as a player, so now running a team from the sidelines is going to be an adjustment.
“It’s a little different being called ‘Coach,’ or looked upon as the head coach, that’ll take a little time,” Kidd said following the Nets first summer league practice on Wednesday morning at PNY Center. “I think we’ll get there and then be comfortable with that situation. Yeah, I was nervous because I care and I want to put guys in a position to be successful offensively and defensively.”
A rookie head coach with zero coaching experience, Kidd is taking the rare step to coach the Nets’ entrant in the Orlando Summer League, which gets underway on Sunday afternoon at Amway Center. The Nets’ opener on Sunday at 5 p.m. against the Detroit Pistons will mark Kidd’s unofficial coaching debut and a golden opportunity to get his feet wet in game situations, but without the obvious pressure of the NBA regular season.
The Nets will hold a second session Wednesday evening, have the Fourth of July off, hold two sessions Friday and one more Saturday morning before departing for Orlando.
Aside from the games, Kidd, who said he has still not spoken with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, is getting the opportunity to run five practices with this 10-man summer league team. The group is headlined by second-year Nets Tyshawn Taylor and Toko Shengelia, in addition to rookie big man Mason Plumlee.
Throughout this two-week summer league process, the hope is that Kidd can get comfortable and find a groove so that when Oct. 1 rolls around and training camp opens, the learning curve isn’t so steep.
“This is a great opportunity for me to do something I’ve done in my whole life and that’s play, but now go on the other side and put guys in a position to be successful,” Kidd said. “The energy was great, the effort was great and it was a lot of teaching going on this morning and there will be teaching tonight, but the guys did well.”
Kidd has already secured a major win in retaining Lawrence Frank, his head coach for five of his seven seasons with the then-New Jersey Nets, as his lead assistant. Frank brings 10 years of head coaching experience to Kidd’s staff, most recently the last two seasons with the Detroit Pistons.
Frank’s mere presence, plus his experience is expected to soften Kidd’s transition.
“Coach Frank did a lot of the organization and setting us up and running a lot of the drills and stuff with us,” Taylor said. “He (Kidd) kind of sat back and was watching and throwing his points in there when he could like a point guard would. He’s a natural leader, so it’s easy for him to do this.”
Adjusting to the just-retired Kidd as a head coach isn’t exclusive to the man himself, but also to the players. One of Kidd’s more memorable moments in his lone season with the Knicks came against the Nets at Barclays Center on Dec. 11. With under 30 seconds to play and the game tied at 97, Kidd hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and was fouled by Jerry Stackhouse. The replay showed Kidd stuck out his right leg on the shot attempt, initiating the contact before the foul call.
Kidd missed the free throw, but the 3-pointer capped the scoring and the leg kick lived on in infamy with Nets fans.
“I was talking about him last year when he hit that 3 on us, kicked his foot out and everything and now he’s my coach,” Taylor joked. “It’s cool, man. It’s a different situation that a lot of guys probably aren’t used to, but like I said, he’s a natural leader and he’s comfortable in his role, so he makes us feel comfortable around him.”
Plumlee Signs Contract
A mere 25 minutes before summer league practice was scheduled to begin, the Nets announced they had signed Plumlee to his rookie contract.
The four years include team options in the third and fourth years. Under the NBA’s rookie wage scale, the 22nd overall pick in last week’s NBA Draft will make $1.038 million this season and $1.13 million in 2014-15 next season.
The signing will allow Plumlee to play on the Nets’ entrant in the Orlando Summer League which opens Sunday at Amway Center. The Nets open play in Orlando against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at 5 p.m.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA