Clash of styles, philosophies drove Nets coaching shuffle
NEW YORK -- Off to a 5-12 start, Nets head coach Jason Kidd announced a shake-up in his coaching staff on Tuesday, reassigning lead assistant Lawrence Frank to a reduced role.
In announcing the decision to relieve Frank of his coaching duties, Kidd cited "philosophical differences," as the reason for the move.
"This is the decision that I had to make and we made it and we move on," Kidd said. "This is my decision in the sense of what I had to do. It's about basketball. That's it."
Hiring Frank was one of Kidd's top priorities after taking the Brooklyn job last June. The relationship between Kidd and Frank dates back to 2001, when Kidd was starring for the Nets and Frank was an assistant coach under Byron Scott. Those Nets reached back-to-back Finals in '02 and '03. In '04 Frank was elevated to head coach after Scott was fired. Kidd was considered one of Frank's strongest supporters.
When Kidd was hired as head coach, he publicly campaigned for Frank to come on board as an assistant. Nets management believed Kidd -- who retired as a player after last season -- needed an experienced hand. Frank was coming off a two-year stint as a head coach in Detroit and had spent four full seasons -- and parts of two more -- as the head man in New Jersey.
According to sources, the relationship soured quickly. Though Kidd and Frank mostly thrived as player and coach, their styles clashed on the bench, particularly defensively, where their philosophies differed on simple rotations and how to defend the pick-and-roll. Entering Tuesday night's game against Denver, the Nets are giving up an average of 102.4 points per game, sixth-worst in the NBA. At least once the two had words after a practice, with Kidd expressing frustration at what he perceived to be the more vocal Frank aggressively trying to run practice in a way Kidd didn't.
Said a source connected to the situation, "It just didn't work."
Frank signed a six-year contract that will pay him an average of $1 million per season, a source said. Frank will continue to receive his salary unless he takes another job that would offset it.
Kidd will now try to salvage what is becoming an increasingly messy situation in Brooklyn. The Nets have been ravaged by injuries this season, losing total 37 games from six players. Currently, Paul Pierce (hand), Deron Williams (ankle), Jason Terry (knee) and Andrei Kirilenko (back) are out of the lineup, while center Brook Lopez (ankle) has also missed time. Kidd has come under fire for a deferential coaching style and was fined $50,000 by the NBA for intentionally spilling a drink in a loss to the Lakers last week.
Still, with a $100 million payroll and a tax penalty that could exceed $80 million, the Nets expected more. Sources say Nets management remains staunchly behind Kidd, believing he will develop into a strong NBA head coach.
Kidd says the team will not hire an assistant to replace Frank. John Welch, Roy Rogers, Joe Prunty, Eric Hughes and Charles Klask are assistant coaches on Kidd's staff.
"We'll be coaches," Kidd said. "That's the way it'll be. No one doing offense, no one doing defense. We'll take the responsibility of being coaches. That will be the way it's set up."