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NBA AM: Kidd’s Chance To Bolster Brooklyn
Posted By Lang Greene On June 13, 2013 @ 9:34 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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Ever since Mikhail Prokhorov took over control of the Brooklyn Nets the owner has talked about building a championship culture and has worked long and hard to pull off headline grabbing deals. The latest move by the Nets’ front office, the hiring of future Hall of Fame player Jason Kidd to be its next head coach, may be the signing which injects life into the franchise and finally gets it over the hump.
“Jason Kidd has a long and legendary history with the Nets and with the city of New York,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “He has the fire in the belly we need, and has achieved as a player everything the Brooklyn Nets are striving to achieve. We believe he will lead us there. Welcome home, Jason.”
The Nets will introduce Kidd’s arrival with a press conference on Thursday and are entrusting the former point guard, who retired from playing less than two weeks ago, with the keys to the franchise for the second time. The first time was as a player when Kidd led the franchise to consecutive trips to the NBA Finals over the course of six seasons.
Brooklyn finished this past season with a 49-33 mark but was eliminated by the injury depleted Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs in a series which went seven games – a series which most believe the Nets undoubtedly should have won.
So when Prokhorov speaks of the Nets’ need for a “fire in the belly” there is an undeniable truth behind the statement. Brooklyn, on paper, were the much more talented team in their playoff matchup and when you factor in Chicago’s rapidly deteriorating health toward the end of the season there aren;t many reasons why the Nets should have been sent home packing, other than its lack of intensity and focus.
Nets general manager Billy King also harped on Kidd’s intensity level and competitive drive, believing those characteristics are what the franchise has been missing as of late.
“Jason is a proven winner and leader with an incredible wealth of basketball knowledge and experience,” King said in a released statement. “This will be a natural transition for him to move into the role of head coach, as he embodies the tough, smart and team-first mentality that we are trying to establish in Brooklyn.”
All eyes will be on Kidd to make the transition from playmaker to sideline general, but Brooklyn undoubtedly has the talent on the roster to make the adjustment seamless. The challenge which will await Kidd is getting the Nets to the next level.
However, the growth the team needs to take the next step will likely have to come from within the organization as it stands today.
Brooklyn has $83.1 million in guaranteed salaries on the books for next season which puts the franchise firmly in luxury tax territory and diminishes the chances of luring a flashy free agent to the organization. The team owns the No. 22 pick in the draft but it may be tough for a rookie to earn consistent minutes on a team with higher expectations.
The growth will need to come from the core of All-Stars, being paid top dollar, the team currently has on the roster – Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace.
Johnson and Wallace appear to be in somewhat of a career decline as they extend further into their 30s, while Lopez thrived this past season after an injury plagued 2012 campaign. But Williams is the guy the team is hoping continues to step up. After starting the season slow, Williams was a terror post All-Star break averaging 22.9 points and 8 assists per outing.
Kidd has a strong relationship with Williams and the two were teammates with the U.S. Men’s National team during the 2008 Olympic games, winning a Gold medal. The duo also flirted with the idea of playing with each other in the past.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to be named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and it’s a role I have been studying for over the course of my playing days,” Kidd said in a news release. “Championship teams are built on being prepared, playing unselfishly and being held accountable, and that’s how I expect to coach this basketball team. I am truly excited about this next phase of my basketball career.”
Many will question whether Kidd needed some time away from the game as a player first or believe he could have paid some dues as an assistant coach, but the Nets are dreaming big with this hire and there are only a select few in the game’s history who have risen to the heights as a player that Kidd has experienced.
In 2014, Brooklyn may be in the building.
Atlanta Hawks Ready To Take Flight
For a franchise possessing just three players with guaranteed contracts on the books for the 2014 campaign there continues to be plenty of positive buzz surrounding the Atlanta Hawks heading into the offseason.
The optimism isn’t being sparked by the returning trio of Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins, though very solid players; the favorable temperament is being aided by the team’s increased flexibility in comparison to prior years in all areas needed to improve.
In the NBA there are three key areas in which to improve a team’s future outlook – the draft, free agency and trade markets. For the first time in at least a decade the Hawks are strongly positioned to be major players in all three facets.
The team owns four draft picks in the upcoming draft, the No. 17, 18, 47 and 50 overall picks. This gives the franchise an option to make a run at a late lottery pick.
The Hawks also will have over $30 million in salary cap room available to become a major player in free agency this summer. Whispers around the organization continue to indicate the team will target both Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard once the signing period begins. Securing those guys’ autographs on a new deal will take a lot of luck, but the mere possibility of being in the mix has excited its fan base.
The Hawks’ future head coach, Mike Budenholzer, is also on the verge of adding another NBA title (as an assistant) to his resume should San Antonio be able to hold off the Miami HEAT in its NBA Finals series. This adds an additional layer of credibility to the recipe president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ferry is brewing.
Atlanta finished the 2013 campaign with a 44-38 record, making their sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs, but were ousted by the Indiana Pacers in the first round.
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