SBD/July 1, 2014/Franchises

Bucks' Owners Called Into Question For Handling Of Jason Kidd Coaching Situation

Lasry (l) has been criticized for the handling of Larry Drew's firing
Bringing Jason Kidd to Milwaukee to coach the Bucks was "by far the biggest mistake" team co-Owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens "made since they bought the Bucks" two months ago, according to Tom Oates of the WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL. Even if Kidd "proves to be a good coach, the awkward, cold-blooded way the transaction was handled raised a sea of red flags about the way Lasry and Edens were going to conduct business in Milwaukee." Lasry and Edens since mid-April had been "generating goodwill and building momentum for the sickly franchise." The "combination of new, more aggressive ownership" and the drafting of F Jabari Parker "created a buzz and had the Bucks on the verge of being relevant again." But Lasry and Edens "threw it all away with their incredibly amateurish handling of the Kidd situation." The way Lasry and Edens "handled this entire matter -- especially interviewing a prospective coach when they already had one under contract -- shows either a lack of character or an amazing amount of naiveté." It was "cutthroat or clumsy or both, all of which bodes poorly for a franchise that is coming to the plate for its final at-bat in Milwaukee and can’t afford to make mistakes." The "immediate response to the Kidd news was that these are the same old dysfunctional Bucks." They still have owners who "think they know more about basketball than they actually do and like to meddle in decisions they’re not qualified to make" (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, 7/1). In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes the goodwill Edens and Lasry had established with the community "was solid," but it was "how Kidd was hired that runs against the grain of propriety, especially in a town like this." Hunt: "A lot of this will be forgotten down the road if Kidd is able to extract effort and talent from the Bucks' core of young players, particularly Parker." But what "won't be forgotten anytime soon was the way the Kidd situation was handled." For a franchise that had "made two big steps forward, this is one step back" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/1).

OFF THE MARC? CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel wrote under the header, "Kidd Deal Shows Bucks' Lasry As Worst Kind Of Owner -- The Meddling Kind." Doyel: "This new owner of yours, this Marc Lasry character -- he has my eyes rolling." For Lasry, it is "more than embarrassing." It is "informative." Doyel: "This one move, this deal to land serial jerk Jason Kidd when the team already had a coach and a general manager -- neither of whom had any idea this flirtation was happening -- tells us what we need to know about Marc Lasry. That he's a meddler" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/30). NBA.com's Steve Aschburner wrote the "first thing Marc Lasry is going to have to do is apologize," for the "manner in which" he hired Kidd. Sources said that he "already has apologized" to fired bucks coach Larry Drew for the "public undercutting that played out over about 48 hours." There is a "right way and a wrong way to do things, and Lasry, the point man on the hire, botched this badly." He "violated an unwritten code against hiring before firing by which even sports’ most ruthless power brokers abide." Lasry "might claim ignorance on that, being new to this fish bowl, but then Kidd should have informed him" (NBA.com, 6/30).

DOING WHAT'S BEST: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt writes it "can be argued" that Lasry and Edens are "doing what they think is best for Bucks and trying to lift the franchise out of the rut it has been in." If this "had gone smoother, maybe the Bucks would be receiving compliments for landing Kidd and Parker and starting a new era of Bucks basketball with promise." As for Kidd, he "has work to do -- not only with the Bucks, but also with other coaches, some of whom might not be thrilled that one coach lost a job in Kidd's power play" (USA TODAY, 7/1). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes, "You can't but help applaud the hire. You can't help but commend their first effort to make one of the most spectacularly irrelevant and comfortably numb franchises in the National Basketball Association into something a bit more exciting, a measure more vibrant." Kidd's hiring has "another admirable quality -- it's a clean break, a fresh start and the beginning of a newly minted direction." It means "there's hope." This was "not a judgment by Lasry and Edens that Drew had failed," but this is the "hope that Kidd can succeed" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/1).

DEAR JOHN: SPORTS ON EARTH's Michael Pina wonders what the Kidd hire means for Bucks GM John Hammond. Pina: "Why would firing him be a gargantuan mistake?" For new owners "fighting an uphill battle against decades of struggle, mediocrity and outright failure -- in an irrelevant market that forces overpay after overpay in free agency -- Hammond should be their man; he deserves the opportunity to climb out of a hole the franchise's previous owner, Herb Kohl, pressured him to dig." Hammond is "quietly one of the best drafting general managers in the league," and his "track record is checkered with mistakes and glory," just like every GM in NBA history. He is "neither bad at his job nor is he startling genius, but uprooting him would be disturbing" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 7/1).
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