Ill-Conceived But Necessary

Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist

Jason Kidd’s move to the Milwaukee Bucks was dishonest, insensitive and ill-conceived. But it was absolutely necessary if the Bucks hope to become a championship contender.

It’s a new era for a Bucks’ organization that’s toiled in mediocrity for years. New owners (Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens). New faces of the franchise (Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo). And a new head coach (Jason Kidd).

“We’ll be building our team thru draft picks, then bring in FAs, and hopefully, in 3-5 years, we’ll be contending for a championship,” tweeted Lasry last Monday.

Lasry wants to rebuild but that doesn’t come without some missteps, though. The Bucks new ownership group made their first one–pursuing Kidd while he still was the Nets’ head coach and before they removed their own coach–Larry Drew.

The dalliance and eventual acquisition of Kidd was met with criticism. The criticism was warranted. But it doesn’t mean the decision was wrong.

We have to be real about the Bucks-Nets-Drew-Kidd drama: Larry Drew is larry drew. Jason Kidd is still JASON KIDD!!!

Drew has been a .500 coach in his four years as a head coach. He doesn’t have the cachet or respect to entice players to come to Milwaukee. His teams haven’t had a true identity, either.

Kidd is the exact opposite. He led the Nets to the second-best record in the East after January 1st (33-15). He brings pop that most young coaches don’t. And the future Hall-of-Fame point guard’s floor-spacing strategy gave the Nets an identity–a rare feat for a first-year coach.

Kidd wants to space the floor and push the pace. He’ll be able to do that in Milwaukee.

He spaced the floor with big guards in Brooklyn. He doesn’t have that with the Bucks. But he does have versatile forwards–Parker and Antetokounmpo–who can play on the perimeter.

The guards–Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo–are small but that can hit from deep.

With the Nets, Kidd had a great rim protector (Kevin Garnett). He’ll have an upgrade in that area with Larry Sanders, the Bucks mercurial Center who had a myriad of issues last season.

All the pieces at Kidd’s disposal will help him put together a competitive team next season, although I doubt they make the playoffs. That might be for the best. The Bucks need to keep accumulating pieces. The only way they’ll do that right now is through the draft.

The Bucks must continue to add talent, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have the main component for a championship contender: a franchise player (Antetokounmpo).

Antetokounmpo was rated as my top prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft and he qualifies as “The Swingman” in my “Franchise Player Equation.”

I think Kidd will be able to guide Antetokounmpo to super-stardom. He may stand seven inches taller than his new coach (6’11). But their playing styles are eerily similar.

Antetokounmpo looks to create for his teammates. Kidd created for his teammates. Antetokounmpo has an infectious persona on the court. Kidd had an infectious persona on the court. Antetokounmpo has a natural feel for the game. Kidd had a natural feel for the game.

The only difference between the two is that Antetokounmpo plays above the rim and is taller. Philosophically, they are a match, as well.

“Every coach has a different style and approach. I believe that coach Kidd will help us because we are a young team that enjoys playing on the open court. That’s the style of basketball I love, playing on the open court, ” Antetokounmpo told NBA Greece on the hire of Kidd.

The Bucks can build their offense and team around the “Greek Freak” the next three years while he’s on his rookie deal. It should be made easy due to the fact that the Bucks have manageable contracts. Sanders is their highest paid player at $11 million per season for the next four years. The other two high-dollar contracts–Eryan Illyasova’s and Mayo’s–come off the books following the 2015-2016 season, which is when Antetokounmpo is eligible for an extension.

If Kid
d is able to convince a key free agent to come to Milwaukee, Lasry and Edens are the type of owners that are willing spend money. Not the most common trait for small-market owners.

You make some good points. The Bucks have a bright future. But the way Kidd did Larry Drew was just wrong. You don’t campaign for another coach’s job behind his back.

You mean the same way Drew campaigned for Mike Woodson’s job behind his back a couple of years ago. There’s a reason Woodson wouldn’t speak on Drew following his dismissal from the Hawks.

Oh, I forgot about that.

I thought you did.

Yes, the Bucks acquisition of Kidd and firing of Drew was handled the wrong way. But they have something they haven’t had in a long time: momentum.

The Bucks have excitement, talented players and a new identity. It’s all because of one necessary decision.

Follow me  @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist.

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