NEW YORK: Brooklyn Nets players have made strides this month forming a team identity, and they have seen Jason Kidd take steps to fine-tune his identity as their coach.
Jason Terry, who was Kidd’s teammate for four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, said it was obvious that Kidd’s self-assurance had skyrocketed from the start of the season, through the Nets’ profound struggles.
“He was coming into something new, and as you grow in anything that’s new to you and the more you do something, the more confidence you gain,” Terry said. “I’m proud of the way he stepped through adversity, and we’ve grown stronger as a unit because of it.”
The Nets are 10-2 this month, raising their record to a more respectable 20-23. As some players noted, it would be overly simplistic to use their 2014 surge as evidence that their coach has suddenly figured it all out. Alan Anderson said: “I thought he was doing a good job, even when we were losing. When you win, though, everything looks better.”
But it is clear Kidd has found more comfort in his role, and he agreed that he is a better coach now than he was the day the Nets began their preseason training camp at Duke.
“That’s the goal each day,” Kidd said of self-improvement. “There’s always something different to learn from, as a coach and as a player, too. I think we’ve all grown since Duke.”
From an aesthetic standpoint, Kidd’s development has included growing a considerable gray-flecked beard. And once the new year began, he ceased wearing a tie on the bench, which spurred some lighthearted superstition among the players.
“Burn that tie,” Andrei Kirilenko joked after the Nets’ fourth win this month.
More important might have been his decision last month to demote Lawrence Frank, his top assistant. On ESPN Radio last week, General Manager Billy King lauded the way Kidd seemed to be “coming into his own,” getting a better understanding and feel for how to manage a game from the sideline.
King pointed out, too, that the coaching message was more consistent. “He’s the one voice now,” King said of Kidd.
Deron Williams agreed, saying after a game last week that Kidd was better at influencing outcomes now.
“I think you see him putting his footprint on the game a little more,” Williams said, noting that the change became pronounced once Frank was demoted. “I think he was leaning on him a lot, and now he’s coaching the way he wants to and doing things the way he wants to.”