To understand that I don’t know everything.
This, in so many words, is the lesson Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said he learned at his previous head coaching stops while answering questions at Thursday’s introductory press conference in Dallas.
Alongside new Head of Basketball Operations Nico Harrison, and flanked by owner Mark Cuban and CEO Cynt Marshall, Kidd took questions on a variety of topics as he spends this summer preparing for his return to the Mavericks — the first time as a coach. While there were few detailed answers, it was a simple yet promising remark from the Hall of Fame point guard.
The issues Kidd had during his time coaching the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks were well publicized. Between clashing with players or implementing confusing schemes, to front office strife that nearly led to an attempted coup, there was no shortage of setbacks and drama under Kidd’s direction. While he did not address those things specifically, he acknowledged that the transition from world champion player to head coach presented unique challenges:
“As a player, making that transition to becoming a head coach, you tend to think you know everything. Well that’s not true. And so, just understanding there are smarter people around me, to take that advice.”
Whether or not he puts this into practice once the season is in full force and the pressure to produce is real, remains to be seen. But the willingness to understand that his voice is not the only one that matters is positive.
This among other comments could preview a shift in philosophy from the tenure of Rick Carlisle, who was known for his micromanaged hands-on approach. While he publicly “gave the keys” to Luka Doncic the moment he was drafted in 2018, Carlisle’s style was still as a strict game manager, while being formulaic in his rotations. It is possible that with Kidd in control, a flashy point guard in his own time, that the creativity from Doncic and others can shine through. He mentioned during Thursday’s introduction that he understands that aspect of Luka’s development and will not be one to get mad at him for trying new things.
In one other non-Luka-centric way Kidd could differ from Carlisle is in young player development, making a point to bring up Mavericks wing Josh Green:
"With a little hard work and some fun, we feel like we can get Josh Green to the next level." - Jason Kidd— The Kobe Beef (@TheKobeBeef) July 15, 2021
These are welcomed words for Mavericks fans who have long yearned for an investment in young players, players who may require a little more time and patience in their journey to becoming a key contributor. Perhaps those past failings shouldn’t fall squarely on Carlisle’s shoulders, and should include a whole crew of personnel that didn’t value that aspect of roster development. But one thing was certain: young players had a short leash under Carlisle’s system. The hope is that Kidd can make good on Thursday’s statements, and the Mavericks can make space for young players to excel.
It isn’t shocking that Carlisle and Kidd would differ in philosophy, both in style of play and in player management. They both infamously clashed for a time during Kidd’s stint in Dallas near the title run. And while Carlisle’s impact as a coach remains clear, his management of personalities had diminished. If Kidd truly did learn lessons in his previous stops, and during his work as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers, this could be the greatest shift in the new era.
Criticism of Kidd’s hiring given his personal history and the Mavericks’ own past failings is warranted. Skepticism about his ability as a head coach is sound. But these few remarks Thursday leave a little room for hope that he has evolved as a coach and could differ from Carlisle in positive ways on the bench.
Editor Doyle Rader attended the press conference Thursday and we talk about it here. Search Mavs Moneyball Podcast on your favorite app to find the episode, click the link, or press play in the player below.