To the surprise of many, Jason Kidd — who retired as an NBA player a mere 10 days ago — swooped in and snatched up the Brooklyn Nets head coaching job, beating out presumed favorites like Brian Shaw and George Karl thanks to his knowledge of the game and relationship with Deron Williams.
It was an incredibly shrewd move for Kidd, who ended his NBA career on a down-note of 10 straight scoreless games for the Knicks — but will now lead the inter-city rival Nets from the comfort of the bench.
The most shocking twist in this saga isn’t that Kidd will now make more money as the Nets coach than he would of as a Knicks point guard, or that he left the Knicks in the lurch after signing a three-year deal. It’s that his playing days might not be over, despite his “retirement.”
Although the NBA collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow for player-coaches, one potential loophole is that 10-day contracts would be permitted. The Knicks would also have to give their permission for Kidd to take the court for another team in the next 12 months (though based on how he finished his Knicks career, the Knicks might see letting him play as a boon for them). So if at some point in the next several years the Nets find themselves down a man, or in need of a steady decision-maker down the stretch, Kidd could conceivably suit up and drag his old ass onto the court. He is, after all, just a few weeks removed from being an NBA player.
The player-coach concept was a lot more popular back in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The last time the NBA saw a player-coach, it was Dave Cowens for the Boston Celtics during the 1978-79 season.
It would be the ultimate slap in the face to the Knicks — who based much of their personnel decisions on thinking Kidd would be around for awhile — to see him running point in Brooklyn black and white and delivering intel to his team about what the Knicks like to run. But good on Kidd for seguing nicely into the next phase of his career, while leaving the door open to continue playing basketball on a limited basis (which for him is the best basis). That’s just good business, and if there’s anything New York knows, it’s business (and pizza).