The Orlando Magic coaching search continues and it is clear they are going to cast a wide net and review every possible candidate out there — from experienced coaches to first-time hires.
That net will include a controversial name in coaching circles.
Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports reports the Magic have asked for and received permission from the Los Angeles Lakers to interview assistant coach Jason Kidd this week.
Kidd falls on the experienced head coaching side, having coached five seasons with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. He accumulated a 183-190 record in those five seasons, guiding his teams to a combined three playoff appearances. He won a playoff series while coaching the Nets in his first year with them.
The Orlando Magic are set to interview Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd, a candidate that comes with some controversy and baggage.
That is where the controversy with Kidd began and the questions surrounding his potential as a head coach.
Rumors quickly spread that he was trying to oust general manager Billy King and push for more decision-making power over the roster. When the Nets balked, he got out of his contract and joined the Bucks and good friends and owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry.
Immediately there were reports of friction and the belief Jason Kidd might push for more organizational power against then-Bucks general manager and current Magic general manager John Hammond. Both denied any friction.
Hammond remained the general manager through the first three years of Kidd’s four-year tenure until 2017. His contract expired and the Bucks did not renew, allowing John Hammond to join the Magic and Jeff Weltman’s staff.
That may have left some bad taste in everyone’s mouth and is certainly an interesting wrinkle to the potential of the Magic adding him to their staff. This would certainly suggest that whatever issues existed between Hammond and Kidd are overblown or behind them.
There are plenty of other issues to get into with Kidd though.
His time with the Bucks started with tons of promise as he got the team to .500 and a playoff appearance in his first year on a 26-game improvement. But the Bucks never really improved from there — finishing .500 just one other time in Kidd’s four-year tenure.
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While Giannis Antetokounmpo began to emerge as an All-Star and lethal force under Kidd’s tutelage, the team’s rotation decisions and their defense fell off a cliff and they sputtered to remain a playoff contender. Kidd simply was no longer meeting the expectations the Bucks set for their team.
Jason Kidd then seems a similar coach to Steve Clifford, good at getting teams into the playoff picture, but no much further. His teams were hardly consistent in his four years as they struggled to remain competitive each year.
Those are just the on-court issues. While they are largely in the past, legal troubles — including a guilty plea for a domestic assault — are a stain on his resume.
And the specter of him angling for a bigger job never went away.
When Frank Vogel announced Jason Kidd would be an assistant coach on his staff with the Los Angeles Lakers, everyone immediately assumed it was a matter of time before Kidd took on the lead chair. That did not happen and the Lakers winning a title last year was proof they made the right hire with Vogel.
Still, Kidd has a lot of respect around the league. He is a 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA player who was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2018. He led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
Kidd is considered one of the best point guards in NBA history and he certainly would have a lot to teach any point guard or player under his care.
Damian Lillard said his preference to replace Terry Stotts with the Portland Trail Blazers was the fellow Oakland-native in Jason Kidd. Kidd declined the interview telling Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that he was uncomfortable with Lillard’s public endorsement.
If he learned anything from his first run as a coach, there would certainly be a lot of value in bringing a coach like him into the fold. But he would have to prove that he has made those changes and that growth during the interview process.
At this point, the Magic cannot ignore any candidate for the job and Kidd has enough experience to merit special consideration despite the baggage that might come with him. Response from Magic fans on social media though was largely negative toward the news.
This is still the early stage of the Magic’s process. So it will be interesting to see what develops next and who else interviews with the team. So far the only other reported interview with the team is San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon. There will surely be more as the Magic get going in their search.