Cal Basketball: Has Jason Kidd Inherited a Headache as New Mavericks' Coach?

Reports out of Dallas suggest managing young star Luka Doncic could be a challenge.
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Former Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who campaigned for Jason Kidd to be hired as his replacement, said the pairing of Kidd and Luka Doncic, the team’s 22-year-old superstar, would be magical marriage.

"He and Luka have so many things in common as players,” Carlisle said.

Now that the Mavericks this week made official their hiring of Kidd — whom they drafted out of Cal 27 years ago — it seems that Kidd’s first assignment may be to be sure Doncic is a happy camper.

Word over the weekend was that a rift has developed between Doncic and teammate Kristaps Porzingis.

That would be potential trouble enough. But ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the problem is deeper than that.

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

“I don’t know how many people are going to be excited to play with Luka,” Windhorst said during an interview Monday with Shan and RJ on 105.3 The Fan.

“I think Luka is, maybe, a difficult person. He’s a great player, but when you watch the Mavericks play, he’s barking at the coach, he’s barking at his teammates, he’s barking at the officials. He’s always barking about something. He can really be an irritable guy.

“So, with a guy who has options, I will be interested to watch to see how that goes going forward. I do think that Luka isn’t a guy... let’s just say it’s not like going to play alongside LeBron [James] or Kevin Durant, guys who you can tell really form good bonds with teammates. I think he’s going to be a challenging guy to play with sometimes, but if you win, ultimately that’s usually going to be the only thing that matters.”

Even before Windhorst offered his insights, the Dallas Morning News was hardly subtle in its assessment of the franchise following the departure of Carlisle after 13 seasons and Don Nelson Jr. as director of basketball ops after 19 years. The Mavs look more like a dumpster fire than a bastion of stability,” the headline blared.

Here’s more from the Morning News:

"Doncic’s on-court temper was a big concern for the Mavs last season. His complaints toward officials landed him in trouble a few times, putting him dangerously close to triggering an automatic one-game suspension for racking up too many technical fouls. His chemistry or lack thereof with outgoing head coach Rick Carlisle and Kristaps Porzingis also drew considerable attention."

And, yes, there’s more. Former NBA player Kendrick Perkins, appearing on ESPN’s “First Take” program, said if he were a GM he’d start a team with Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, not Doncic, according to the Morning News.

“You know why? Because I know one thing, I’m gonna keep my job, I’m not gonna walk away or get fired or let go,” Perkins said. “See right now, what’s going on in Dallas, we don’t know what’s going on. The coaches are walking away, the general managers, the front office, it’s a disaster over (there).

“And that goes to show me that something is going on in that locker room with their star player. It looks to me, guys love playing with (Young). I can’t say the same for Luka.”

Owner Mark Cuban will count on Kidd and new general manager Nico Harrison to mend whatever issues are stressing the franchise.

Mavericks welcome Jason Kidd

The Mavericks don’t plan to introduce Kidd at a news conference until July 15, but they made the hiring official this week.

“We are excited to welcome J-Kidd and his family back to Dallas,” Cuban said said in a statement. “He possesses a winning mentality that carried him through a Hall of Fame career as a player and has helped him successfully transition to the NBA’s coaching ranks. We are eager for him to get to work and lead our franchise and talented young players into the future.”

Kidd played eight of his 19 NBA seasons during two stints with Dallas, helping the team win its only championship in 2011. It was the high point of a spectacular career that landed him in the Naismith Hall of Fame three years ago.

“Dallas has meant so much to me as a player and I want to thank Mark Cuban for the opportunity to return as a head coach,” Kidd said in the Mavs’ news release. “I am excited to get to work with this young, hungry and incredibly talented team and to continue to build a winning legacy for the Mavericks organization.”

Kidd, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, addressed his former team and his new on social media:

Kidd says thank you to the Lakers

This will be Kidd's third head-coaching assignment in the NBA. He spent one season with the Brooklyn Nets and parts of four with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Here's his year-by-year record:

Kidd's NBA head coaching record

Cover photo of Jason Kidd by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo