SBD/June 14, 2013/Franchises

Nets GM Billy King Says Team Did Not Hire Jason Kidd As A Marketing Ploy

Kidd's relationship with King (l) began in '99 through USA Basketball
The Nets in hiring recently retired NBAer Jason Kidd as their coach are "taking the franchise's biggest gamble since the move to Brooklyn," but the Nets "clearly aren't interested in playing it 'safe' these days," according to Peter Schrager of FOXSPORTS.com. Nets GM Billy King said of the hire, "It wasn't about a buzz. I know everyone's talking about sexy names and whatever else. It was about finding the right person. I don't know what's considered 'sexy' or not, and I think you guys determine that. If you write it enough, it becomes 'sexier'" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/13). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes the move to hire Kidd "wasn't some college trying to make a 'SportsCenter' splash by making a fancy coaching hire." This was, in "many ways, as opposite to that as you can be: The Nets already had captured the offseason buzz from the Knicks and run away with it by making this call." For maybe the first time since they "switched their office area code to 718 they were being treated like the 212 team" (N.Y. POST, 6/14). Also in N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes, "It reads like a ludicrous time line, but King insisted Kidd's hiring had nothing to do with marketing or bringing in a sexy name." King said that it was "all about basketball." Kidd at his introductory press conference said, "We're in discussions about my assistant coaches. I know there's a lot of speculation about Lawrence Frank. He'd be a great candidate. But there's a lot of people out there who will be getting phone calls from me. I understand I'll lean on my staff heavily" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/14).

EVERY NEW BEGINNING...: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes the opening of Barclays Center "pretty much gave the Nets a season on the house last year, the team serving as secondary theater to the architectural razzle-dazzle and artisanal food." But the worry is that the Nets will "get marooned in that weird basketball purgatory: far from the bottom, but not close to the top." The Nets can "sometimes seem like a surreal franchise." Owner Mikhail Prokhorov delivered his "own remarks in support of Jason Kidd while announcing he did not intend to run for mayor of Moscow." Jay-Z reportedly is "pulling away to focus on his nascent sports-agency business." The Nets are on "their third head coach in a calendar year, clunked out of the playoffs, and yet ... there's still a sense that this is the beginning" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer wrote Kidd is the "perfect hire for the Nets because he's the most Brooklyn Nets-y hire the Brooklyn Nets could possibly hope to hire." The focus "right now is hiring a big name that can please" Prokhorov and King, two "basketball minds that have proven to have the patience of a Le Sueur pea over their respective NBA careers" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/13). On Long Island, Al Iannazzone notes Kidd has "off-the-court issues to deal with next week," as he has a "court date on eastern Long Island for his arrest on drunken-driving charges last summer." King said that the incident was "discussed in the interview process and what was expected of him." King: "I won't go too far because it's a legal matter, but we talked about it. I felt comfortable where things stand" (NEWSDAY, 6/14).

VETTING PROCESS: In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun notes King’s relationship with Kidd "began at the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico in 1999, when King was on the United States national team committee." King said that Kidd’s relationship with former Nets President Rod Thorn also was "instrumental in the decision to hire Kidd" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/14). Also in N.Y., Filip Bondy notes King "did his homework," speaking with Thorn, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and a "bunch of other basketball guys who knew Kidd well." King spoke "directly to Kidd about personal conduct issues, about the DUI hearing next week and how it can't happen again." He "kept in contact with Prokhorov." King said, "At the end of the day, (Prokhorov) said, 'Your call'" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/14). The N.Y. TIMES' Harvey Araton writes King deserves credit for at "making sure that friends in the industry would not think him insane with this hire." King also flew in Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw to "give at least one candidate with coaching experience the opportunity to talk him into a more conventional hire" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/14).

NEW FACE OF THE FRANCHISE: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Kidd's presence on the bench, and the "curiosity factor attached to it," will give ratings for Nets games on YES Network a "short-term boost." But that will "not happen on its own." Kidd, not G Deron Williams, is now "officially the face of the franchise." He will have "more than the normal media responsibilities of an NBA coach," as he will have to "sell himself to the skeptical" and  "sell tickets, too." That "wasn't on Kidd when he was 'just' a player." Raissman: "What about a weekly spot on WFAN?" While the station is the radio home of the Nets, it "rarely embraces the team." The focus has "been on the Knicks." While Kidd could "not completely eliminate that perception, his presence would produce an increase in Nets chatter." WFAN Operations Manager Mark Chernoff said that he has "yet to have discussions with Nets brass about using Kidd." But he added, "We would be very interested in doing a regular segment with Jason." Still, Raissman notes the "biggest beneficiary of Kidd coaching the Nets is YES." If the Kidd storyline can "bring more eyeballs to the Nets on YES, the hire would pay off on a different level." Raissman: "Look for those Kidd advertisements on Yankees games any day now." (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/14).
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