Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
As Kidd Switches Sides, Knicks-Nets Rivalry Heats Up
Just 10 days after officially retiring from the Knicks with two years and more than $6 million left on his contract, Jason Kidd has jumped ship and become the head coach of the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets.
The addition of the 10-time NBA All-Star — arguably the greatest Net in NBA history (Dr. J. played in the ABA) — should certainly spice up the Knicks-Nets rivalry.
“I think it’s a great rivalry,” Kidd said Thursday at his introductory press conference at Barclays Center. “It’s great for the city, for the people that live here and so hopefully Brooklyn has the upper hand at the end of the day.”
Did you hear that, Knicks fans?
Knicks fans generally adored Kidd for most of the season as he helped lead New York to the second round of the playoffs, only to go scoreless in his final 10 playoff games.
Still, Kidd was instrumental in encouraging Carmelo Anthony to play a more selfless style of basketball, and in getting J.R. Smith to get with the program (up until the end of the playoffs, anyway).
“The Nets are lucky to have you. Gonna hate seeing you on the other side,” Tweeted Knicks point guard Raymond Felton.
Entering the 2013-14 season, Kidd will now go mano-a-mano with his former coach, Mike Woodson, for Atlantic Division supremacy and the right to battle Indiana, Chicago and, of course, Miami for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.
“Woody is a great coach,” Kidd said. “You look at his offense. His ability to execute plays at the timeouts. He’s one of the best in the league so I’ve been very fortunate in my NBA career to play for a lot of great coaches that I can take little things from and maybe create them into my own.”
Kidd referenced the San Antonio Spurs — who currently hold a 2-1 edge over LeBron James the Heat in the NBA Finals — as the model franchise and said he wanted the Nets to follow their lead.
“We want to be a team that wins 50 games on regular basis, 12, 13 years,” Kidd said. “My job is to put guys in a position to be successful.”
What’s especially interesting in terms of the Knicks-Nets rivalry is that Woodson will be in the last guaranteed year of his three-year deal next season, and Anthony can also opt out in 2014.
“[Woodson]gets I think $10.5 [million] for three [years] with only two guaranteed after what he had done,” one source with knowledge of the situation told SNY.tv.
“Next year is his last year guaranteed, which is amazing.”
Kidd, meantime, reportedly signed a three-year deal worth $7.5 million, with a team option for the fourth year.
“I think he starts at $2.9 [million],” the source said of Woodson. “Jason comes in without ever having coached a game at fairly similar numbers and the Knicks got what they wanted.”
The Knicks allegedly made Woodson fire his former agent, Joe Glass, and hire CAA to rep him during contract negotiations. CAA also reps Anthony and Smith.
“In the Knicks’ situation, they dictated not only who they wouldn’t deal with but who they should deal with,” the source said.
The Nets have somewhat of a similar situation but not completely. As far as we know, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t care who Kidd’s agent is.
Jeff Schwartz now represents not only Kidd, the Nets’ coach, but players Deron Williams, Tyshawn Taylor and Mirza Teletovic.
Some believe this is a conflict of interest, but whether it is or not, this much is clear: Kidd will have to demand as much or more of his buddy Williams as he does of the other Nets.
He can’t afford to be seen as Williams’ golfing buddy and traveling pal at the expense of other players.
“I have no problem taking direction from him and I’m eager to learn from him so I think it’ll be great,” Williams told the YES Network of Kidd.
“We want to win a championship and there’s a lot of work ahead.”
The path to a championship for Kidd now includes going through the his old teammates with the Knicks.
And Kidd has made it clear who he believes will have the upper hand.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.