Jason Kidd’s talk with Kevin Garnett about playing time ‘didn’t go too well’
Jason Kidd is wisely approaching his first coaching job as a student. He’s reached out to industry legends, hired his former head coach as his lead assistant and dedicated time to looking at the game through an entirely new lens. It’s a wise way to go through the transition process. Though Kidd has long been lauded for his cerebral approach to the game, he still has an incredible amount to learn in terms of managing talent and strategy from the other side.
But even his diligence and best intentions can’t fully prepare him for what’s in store, as Kidd apparently found out in some preliminary discussions with the recently acquired Kevin Garnett. Brooklyn’s new starting power forward is 37 years old and has logged nearly 53,000 career minutes — an amount of wear that would understandably make any coach a bit nervous. But Kidd’s attempts to persuade Garnett to potentially rest in back-to-back situations didn’t exactly go as planned.
From Adi Joseph of USA Today:
…Kidd already commands the respect of his players, who subscribed to the theory that he’ll relate better to them because of his recent playing tenure.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps. Kidd spoke with Garnett recently about limiting the 37-year-old’s wear and tear by not allowing him to play games on consecutive days.
“It didn’t go too well,” Garnett said. “I understand what he’s saying. He just wants to make sure I’m durable. … I just don’t want to be told anything. I think I’ve earned the right to have an opinion on something that I’m doing. From a chemistry standpoint, I think it’s important for me to be out there with everybody.”
A first-time coach like Kidd might have an easier time with a veteran roster in some respects, but this particular dynamic illustrates the complications involved in managing an assortment of established, star-level players. Veterans like Garnett come to the Nets with firm expectations about touches, role and playing time, and it’s up to Kidd to soothe the egos of capable players in order to maximize Brooklyn’s potential. That could involve using Paul Pierce off the ball more frequently. It could mean lobbying Jason Terry to play the part of a slightly more traditional point guard. It might involve selling Andrei Kirilenko or Joe Johnson on playing fewer minutes, or in this case attempting to keep Garnett healthy for the long haul.
Most every key player involved in a team this deep is forced to compromise something, and in some cases proven veterans — who have been preconditioned to a certain role for more than a decade — have a hard time letting go. That won’t necessarily be the case with the Nets, but it’s clear already that Kidd will have to be both strategist and salesman to get this cast of current and former All-Stars to buy in completely.