Nets coach Jason Kidd hasn't said much about his decision to remove assistant coach Lawrence Frank from his bench, but he has asserted that the unusual move, which came little more than a month into the 2013-14 season, was in the best interest of Brooklyn's "brand."
In a video interview that aired on TNT on Thursday, the first-year coach explained his decision to "reassign" Frank to a report-filing role and to keep him away from Brooklyn's practices.
"Philosophies, sometimes things don't work out," Kidd said. "You have to accept that. I could accept that. At the same time, there's a brand, the Brooklyn Nets that has to move forward. I have to find a way to make them better. For coaches, it happens just like players. It could be a disagreement, or an understanding that we don't get along. But I have to do what's best for the brand, and that's what I had to do."
One wonders whether Kidd has always considered the global marketing repercussions of his moves. After all, nothing says "reputation enhancement" quite like a $50,000 fine from the NBA last week for intentionally spilling soda on the court to delay a game.
SI.com's Chris Mannix reported the Kidd/Frank relationship went south quickly.
When Kidd was hired as head coach, he publicly campaigned for Frank to come on board as an assistant. Nets management believed Kidd -- who retired as a player after last season -- needed an experienced hand. Frank was coming off a two-year stint as a head coach in Detroit and had spent four full seasons -- and parts of two more -- as the head man in New Jersey.
According to sources, the relationship soured quickly. Though Kidd and Frank mostly thrived as player and coach, their styles clashed on the bench, particularly defensively, where their philosophies differed on simple rotations and how to defend the pick-and-roll. Entering Tuesday night's game against Denver, the Nets are giving up an average of 102.4 points per game, sixth-worst in the NBA. At least once the two had words after a practice, with Kidd expressing frustration at what he perceived to be the more vocal Frank aggressively trying to run practice in a way Kidd didn't.
Said a source connected to the situation, "It just didn't work."
Kidd was hired by the Nets in June less than two weeks after he announced his retirement following a 19-year playing career. Frank, who spent the last two seasons coaching the Pistons, was hired a few weeks later. Frank coached Kidd when the latter played for the Nets, and that relationship was supposed to help ease Kidd into life as a head coach.
The New York Daily News reported last week that there was developing “friction” between the two men and that “something has changed” with their relationship. Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that Kidd and Frank got into a disagreement during a meeting in early November that may have played a role in the falling out. Meanwhile, ESPN.com reports that Nets assistant Joe Prunty will fill in any gaps created by Frank’s departure.
Brooklyn entered Thursday night with a 5-13 record despite a payroll that tops $100 million in salary and a potential starting lineup made up of five recent All-Stars. This season has been marred by various injuries to Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko, and Paul Pierce was recently lost to a hand injury that will sideline him for at least two weeks.
Frank, 43, has a career coaching record of 279-335 (.454) over nine seasons with the Nets and Pistons. ESPNNY.com reported in July that he was the league’s highest-paid assistant coach, earning more than $1 million per year.