Another bumpy road?
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - June 21, 2019 - 12:00am

By month end, the transfer of Anthony Davis to the LA Lakers becomes official and the new superstar pairing with LeBron James gets to be legitimate. Reports have it that the Lakers are clearing more cap space to acquire max players to surround the duo.  But there could be problems on the sidelines because of who will exactly be calling the shots.

After Magic Johnson’s generation, one point-guard came into the league with the rare skill of finding the open teammate and grab rebounds, aside from scoring and completing steals, making him a constant triple-double threat. 

He did not have the flamboyance and artistry of the Magic Man but throughout his career and until he retired from playing, he was a 5-time NBA regular season assist leader, ranks 2nd all-time in steals and assists, 4th all-time in the NBA’s regular season leader in triple-doubles with 107 and 3rd all-time in playoff triple-doubles with 11.

Jason Kidd, already inducted to basketball’s Hall of Fame, is the only player in the league history who recorded 15,000 points, 10,000 assists and 7,000 rebounds, he was 1995 co-rookie of the year with Grant Hill, a 2011 NBA champion, 2-time Olympic gold medal winner and a 10-time All-Star among other individual awards.

After 19 seasons, Kidd followed his co-rookie Hill and retired in 2013.  The same year, he was hired to coach the Brooklyn Nets and then to the Milwaukee Bucks until he was fired last year.  His on-court wizardry did not translate to success on the sidelines but instead was sprinkled with controversy.

In Brooklyn, he tried to get more control over the team and tried to unseat General Manager Billy King.  He wanted to be like successful veteran coaches like Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Flip Saunders who had dual roles coaching and handling the teams’ basketball operations department.

The Nets felt Kidd was too raw for that responsibility and that paved the way for the job with the Bucks, where one of the co-owners is a good friend and a former financial adviser.  But just two seasons in with Milwaukee, he began to act and control basketball operations which, naturally, did not sit well with the owners.

It can be recalled that during his time as a player with the Nets, it was reported that Kidd was instrumental in the firing of coach Byron Scott, never mind if he guided the team to two successive NBA Finals appearance.   Lawrence Frank, who replaced Scott and later became his assistant, was often maligned and mistreated by him.

With this history of power plays, newly hired Laker coach Frank Vogel should be wary as Kidd was hired by the team as an assistant reportedly as the highest salaried assistant coach in the NBA.  If Vogel’s game plans don’t mesh with Kidd’s, expect him to whine and bully his way up to Jeannie Buss.   With the average salary of an assistant coach in the NBA to be between $750k to $1.2m annually, it is widely believed that Kidd was signed on the $2m range.

As to Vogel, he entered the league in 1996 as head video coordinator for the Boston Celtics then coached by Rick Pitino.  He was promoted to assistant coach after five years and then had stints as an assistant with Philadelphia and Indiana and was later named head coach of the Pacers in 2011 after Jim O’Brien was fired from the position.  His tenure in Indiana was successful marked by his all-time franchise record of games won, but his 4-year contract was not renewed, with management saying the team needs something new.  He was then hired by the Orlando Magic but was given his walking papers at the end of the 2017-2018 season.

Vogel has a connection with the Lakers as he was the team’s advance scout in 2005 to 2006.  Now, he inherited LeBron and the accompanying reputation as a ‘coach killer’.  Luke Walton, despite the support of Buss was fired because of him.   David Blatt lost his job in Cleveland also at the insistence of LeBron.  It was reported that he wanted to have Erik Spoelstra fired from Miami but Pat Riley said no.

If LeBron don’t have feelings for Vogel, his existence as coach will be slim to none.   He would be lobbying for Kidd considering that they were teammates in the 2008 Dream Team.   And as far as lobbying is concerned, Kidd infamously has the experience.  Incidentally, Kidd had issues with someone named Frank at Brooklyn and then here comes another Frank at Los Angeles.  Déjà vu?

Let’s temper our expectations Laker Nation, the road to glory is still bumpy.  We will cross the bridge when, yes, there is a bridge.  Of course.  Unsa pa man diay.

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