Cal Basketball: Is Jason Kidd A Serious Candidate to Become Knicks' Coach?

Photo by Alonzo Adams, USA Today

Jeff Faraudo

When Jason Kidd was hired a year ago as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, it was widely speculated that eventually he likely would replace Frank Vogel as head coach.

Now Kidd, the Cal hoops icon, apparently is in the mix to become the next New York Knicks coach.

Of course, so are many others, including interim coach Mike Miller and Warriors assistant Mike Brown, along with Ide Udoka, Pat Delany, Chris Fleming and Tom Thibodeau, who was regarded as the early favorite.

This story by Jonathan Macri on the AllKnicks’ SI.com site, suggests the best man for the job is a woman — respected NBA assistant coach Becky Hammon.

Still, Kidd is the most famous name in the group competing to become the Knicks’ 13th different head coach since Jeff Van Gundy resigned in 2001.

A story CBS Sports assembled explores whether Kidd — who has head-coaching experience with the Brooklyn Nets (44-38) and Milwaukee Bucks (139-152) — could be the Knicks’ choice based the relationship he has with one megastar player ?

Here’s the CBS Sports story: Could Jason Kidd actually lure Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Knicks?

It’s an interesting premise and apparently a complicated one. Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent in the summer of 2021 and the list of suitors will be one enough to wind around Madison Square Garden.

Here’s the crux of the question from the Knicks’ standpoint:

In particular, the Knicks reportedly believe that Kidd could help them lure Giannis Antetokounmpo to Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2021. They aren't the first team to think this way -- there were reports that the Lakers had the same idea -- and it's no secret that Giannis looked up to Kidd.

All of this could be irrelevant if Giannis decides to re-sign in Milwaukee, an appealing option considering both financial incentives and the ability to compete for a title. But, assuming he does hit unrestricted free agency in 2021, would Kidd's presence really be enough to sway him to sign with New York?

Kidd’s relationship with Antetokounmpo by all accounts was sturdy during his time as the Bucks’ coach. When Kidd was fired by Milwaukee in 2018, Antetokounmpo offered to intervene with ownership, according to a report by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported that Antetokounmpo was “devastated” by Kidd’s departure.

Later, in his first public remarks about the firing, Antetokounmpo said:

He’s a big part of my success in the league. I'm loyal to the people I work with. I love him as a person. I care about him as a person. I was only 18. I didn't even know how the NBA worked. [Kidd's firing] hurts a little bit more because he was here for 3 1/2 years. He trusted me. He put the ball in my hands. He pushed me to be great.

But it wasn’t all perfect between the two. After Antetokounmpo shot less than 35 percent on 3-pointers his rookie season, Kidd barred him from taking the shots, which apparently affected Antetokounmpo.

Here’s what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Antetokounmpo as saying:

I think it was my second year he told me not to shoot the ball. Then my third year, at the end of the year, he told me to shoot the ball a little bit. In my fourth year, he let me shoot the ball and in my fifth year he told me, 'You have the green light, do whatever you want,' but I wasn't comfortable enough. It's hard. When you're not shooting the ball, it's hard to get back (to shooting).

Since then, Antetokounmpo has blossomed under coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks have improved as a team. Milwaukee will resume play in the NBA next month with a record of 53-12 — best in the league — and Giannis is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

So would he definitely opt to sign elsewhere if the Bucks continue to look like a championship team?

Then there’s the issue of Antetokounmpo reportedly not liking the Knicks because of the way they treated his brother, Thanasis, and not being especially interested in a big-market team.

Lots of moving parts here, and it seems far from certain that Kidd could convince Antetokounmpo to sign with the Knicks a year from now.

If this is even an unspoken part of negotiations, it's frankly insulting to Kidd. But these are the Knicks so anything is possible.

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

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