Jason Kidd and the Cardinal Rule of Franchises

Since Lawrence Frank’s reassignment, the Nets have lost 111-87 and 113-83, to the Nuggets and Knicks at home. Clearly, this was not what Jason Kidd hoped for when he severed his partnership with his former mentor and friend.

This means something simple: The Nets must relieve Kidd of his duties, either by giving him a different organizational role or letting him go entirely. The Knicks have often been criticized for something that the Nets appear guilty of in hiring Jason Kidd: violating the cardinal rule.

The cardinal rule: teams should not make moves designed to win the headline. They should only make moves with one question in mind: what is best for the franchise in our goal of building a champion.

For every franchise, what is best for winning a franchise means something different. It may be rebuilding, shedding bad contracts, or being aggressive and adding payroll. That depends on your roster, your cap situation, the status of the league, and a host of factors. Regardless, one thing is true: professional franchises should never make moves under the logic that those moves will win the headline and generate good publicity – or that moves if made will create a PR nightmare. Teams should solely consider “what is best for the franchise right now.”

Granted, that will never stop New York teams, and it’s media and fans, from thinking otherwise: and that’s the problem. Some say, for example, that the Yankees need to spend because they look bad if they are fiscally prudent in the wake of a Red Sox series. Some say with Yankees spending the Mets must spend to show their fans they care about winning. I do not cover the MLB, and do not know what the Yankees or Mets should do, but I know this: both should do what is in the best interests of their franchises to build a title contender, irrespective of such popular opinions.

Here is the paradox of winning the headline: you ultimately lose the headline when you focus on winning it, because you hurt the franchise by making moves that are not in its best interests.

Some say the Nets cannot fire Kidd, cannot reassign him within the organization. The logic goes, it would be an admission of a bad summer hire. That the organization cannot subject itself to that embarrassment.

That is a very flawed way of thinking. Teams that shed a coach they dislike tend to play better afterward: the Nets have lost 111-87 and 113-83 since shedding Frank, so he was not the problem. Sure, Nets can say they will stick with Kidd, show they are patient and refuse to deal with the bad headlines that would come with firing him so quickly.

But that is not best for this franchise. Scouts say the Nets barely run plays, and it surely led that way last night. The defense has been atrocious and last night was no exception.

More concerning, it is clear the Nets are not playing for Kidd, not even in the slightest. The Nets should not get butchered to this extreme on talent alone. On a night where the Knicks made a point of ending their struggles, the Nets could not be bothered.

Right now, the Nets need a coach who will demand a defensive scheme in tune with their personnel, and in tune with modern metrics (take away threes instead of the midrange), along with a coach committed to running offense that stresses getting shots out of the midrange as opposed to thinking those are good shots. That coach is clearly not Jason Kidd right now.

And given the way the Nets put the onus on this year and next given their roster and assets, that means Kidd as coach is not in the best interests of the franchise.

Kidd’s struggles call into question the Nets motives for hiring him. Some saw this as a PR move for a team needing to win offseason headlines. They had no cap flexibility and were looking at the same group as last year so this was the way to get on a back page. The way Kidd is coaching, it’s hard to argue with that.

The Boston trade was unforeseeable and came after Kidd’s hire. Perhaps they hired Kidd to work with last year’s group, a group they figured would remain in place until they could rebuild with youth around Deron and Brook–perhaps hiring Kidd made sense given that long range plan. Let Kidd learn on the job with a sub title contender and look to build a new house, from the ground. Kidd could grow with the new house.

But once the trade was made the onus became “win today, there is no tomorrow.” And now that that is the case, and it is clear that Kidd is still learning how to coach, it is in the best interests of the franchise to put someone else in the head coaching seat.

It is true that making a coaching move: whether it’s putting Frank in the head role, or going outside the organization to grab a coach with experience, would lead to negative press. It would come off as a concession that Brooklyn messed up when hiring Kidd.

My take: who cares. The Nets tried to win the headline by hiring Kidd instead of focusing on the cardinal rule of “best interests of the franchise.” And as happens with all franchises who shift their focus from best interests, to trying to win headlines, they ultimately make moves that are not in the team’s best interests, and lose the headline. In fact, given Ian O’Connor of ESPN admits here he praised the hire and is now against it, that seemed to have already begun.

At the end of the day, who cares who wins the headline? The Nets won more headlines this offseason than the Knicks: that did not matter last night. And when the second round of the playoffs come, nobody will remember if the 8 teams still alive won or lost offseason and regular season headlines. All that will matter is that those teams are seeing extended action in the playoffs.

It is true that some of the positive PR with Kidd’s return comes from getting a legend to make amends with the organization. Charles Barkley has been outspoken in that he dislikes what the Sixers (he was there for a whole before Phoenix) did this offseason. If the Sixers are good in two years, will anyone care?

The Nets goal is to win a title, or at least play meaningful playoff basketball. The best thing they can do to accomplish that, is to put a new man in Kidd’s seat, and thus they should do it, regardless of what it means to the next back page.

Magic doesn’t hate La Barkley and Philly

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