NBA Coaching Report: Dallas Mavericks Revamp By Bringing In New Head Coach Jason Kidd
Mavericks reach agreement with new head coach
After parting ways with long-tenured head coach Rick Carlisle, the Dallas Mavericks are now set on heading towards a new direction. It has become apparent that the Mavericks are bringing in Jason Kidd as their new head coach, re-uniting with the former All-Star point guard who helped bring a coveted NBA championship to the franchise when they beat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat during the 2011 NBA Finals.
Kidd, who already had previous coaching stops with the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, recently served as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would win another NBA championship last year. Even though Kidd did not achieve tons of success in his first two coaching stints with the Nets and the Bucks, he is still a highly regarded basketball mind in the league.
In fact, Carlisle, his predecessor, recommended him for the vacant head coaching job at Dallas. Carlisle, who has now accepted his new role as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, emphasized that Kidd’s experience as a brilliant point guard could help him relate with Luka Doncic, the Mavericks’ young superstar. There is no doubt that Luka is a generational talent who has the chance to bag numerous Most Valuable Player plums in the next several years, especially if the team achieves more wins and success in the regular season. As per a column written by staff writer Tim MacMahon of the ESPN, Carlise would also point out that Luka is the best young player in the world right now. Having a valuable asset like that should not go to waste, so it is a must that the Mavericks front office will do everything they can to complement their young superstar’s unique skill set.
"My hope is that Jason Kidd will be the next coach of the Mavs because he and Luka have so many things in common as players," Carlisle said. "I just think that it would be a great situation for Luka, and I think it would be an amazing situation for Jason. I'm the only person on the planet that's coached both of those guys and that knows about all of their special qualities as basketball players. To me, that just would be a great marriage, but that's juut an opinion.
I just sent [Doncic] a message thanking him for three amazing years,"Carlisle said Thursday. "I learned many things from him, and I told him that I'm glad I'm only going to see him twice a year. I mean it in the most complimentary way, of course. I think he's the best young player in the world. I think these three years set up as a major springboard for the next 10 for him. I expect him to be an NBA champion. I expect him to be a multiple MVP winner. I just have an amazing level of respect for his abilities and his grasp of the game. He's truly a once-in-the-generation type player."
Kidd, who was the second overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, had himself one of the most illustrious careers for a point guard. With his excellent court vision and brilliant understanding of the game, Kidd became one of the best passers that the league has seen. He would notch ten All-Star appearances, and would win the assist title in five seasons. Kidd also bagged the 1994-95 Rookie of the Year award, and was named to the All-NBA Team six times.
But on top of his exceptional passing and playmaking, Kidd was also a great defensive player. Being a good offensive player is one thing, but it is another thing to also carry a huge workload on the other end of the floor. Kidd was not just a great operator on offense, but he also willingly took on any assignments on defense. It is no coincidence that he has been named to the All-Defensive Teams numerous times, and he was even tasked with the primary defensive assignments during the latter stages of his very productive career.
Interestingly, Kidd played his first two seasons with the Mavericks. After a brilliant rookie year, Kidd further improved his numbers to an all-around stat line of 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 2.2 steals per contest, and garnered his first All-Star selection in just his second year in the league. After three and a half years with the Mavericks, Kidd was then moved to the Phoenix Suns where he would spend four productive years.
After his productive stint with the Suns, Kidd then moved to the New Jersey Nets where he would continue his brilliance and book tickets to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the Nets would not win a championship, but that did not take away what Kidd has done for the franchise. He put them on the map, and would leave a legacy as one of the best players in the Nets’ franchise. He then moved on to the Mavericks camp, where he would win his only NBA championship. His tenure in Dallas, and the success that he helped bring there eventually led to the fact that many figures within the organization have been recommending him for the head coaching role.
As per Rob Mahoney of The Ringer, Kidd has a reputation of demanding more from his players. That should bode well for the Mavericks as this is still a relatively young and inexperienced team who still needs a whole lot more of guidance if they want to win their first playoff series as a unit.
Kidd has a reputation as a demanding and rigid coach, though without the winning record to show for it. A few weeks before he was fired from his last head-coaching job, with the Bucks, Kidd blamed his team’s struggles on the youth of its roster. “I think when you, you know, become 25 or, you know, in the 28 range, you tend to think about the game,” he said. “We’re talking about kids that are thinking about trying to put the ball in the basket.” The following season, those same kids won 60 games and went to the Eastern Conference finals under Mike Budenholzer.
Doncic, for reference, is 22 years old, and a pushy 22 at that. He challenged Carlisle, just as Kidd had a decade before him, only more theatrically; Luka coming into a timeout yelling at his coach eventually became a standard part of the Mavericks’ in-arena experience. Carlisle was always effusive in his praise of Doncic, as he often was of Kidd. Their basketball genius is undeniable—and could be a point of connection between them. Yet Carlisle, ever sardonic, might not have had the extrasensory playmaking of the two guards in mind when, in speaking with ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon, he endorsed Kidd as Doncic’s next head coach “because he and Luka have so many things in common as players.” Somehow, Kidd’s hiring doesn’t feel like it came out of good process, good ethics, or even good basketball. If it isn’t rooted entirely in 2011 nostalgia, any decision to bring Kidd back to coach would have to stem from the idea that he could evolve beyond what he showed in his past two attempts to do this very job.
But then again, there is still a lot of work left to do for the Mavericks front office. They have to build a stronger supporting cast around Luka, and the clock is ticking on them. It is without a doubt that Luka’s partnership with star big man Kristaps Porzingis did not work under the tenure of Rick Carlisle, so it remains to be seen if Kidd can make something work out of it. Speculations already have it that Luka and Kristaps do not see eye to eye, so that could be something really difficult to solve.
The Mavericks, who finished the regular season with a decent record of 42 wins against 30 defeats, pushed Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the more favorited Los Angeles Clippers squad to six games in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. They won the first two games, but then seemed to lose steam as the series dragged on. Luka was again magnificent as he tried to carry the Mavericks squad to a series win, averaging a tremendous all-around stat line of 35.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 10.3 assists and 1.3 steals per contest, while also producing an efficient 49% overall clip from the field and a stellar 40% clip from the three-point line.
As for the whole roster, it is without a doubt that the Mavericks front office have to solidify the team’s defensive presence, especially in the frontcourt. That is the part of the game that Luka cannot lead them, so it is only right that bringing in more positionless defenders who can defend multiple positions on that end of the floor. They already have the likes of Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith, but they are still not among the league’s elite defensive players.
But of course, everything will still depend on the type of system that Kidd will employ with his new team. It is of an amount of certainty that he will prioritize putting in a higher level of defensive system, and that starts with having the right kind of personnel to do that job. As per a column written by senior writer Kevin Pelton of the ESPN, he pointed out that the Mavericks also have to address their depth in the second unit, a very valuable part of their roster especially if they want to lighten up Luka’s load in the regular season and in the playoffs. Looking at the bench of the Mavericks right now, there is still no real two-way player in there who can manufacture shots for himself and for his teammates, while also having the ability to defend on the other end of the floor.
Of course, there is the fact that back-up point guard Jalen Brunson has been outstanding for them this season. The third year guard produced a steady stat line of 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, establishing himself as one of the up-and-coming young point guards in the league. But Pelton then pointed out that Brunson struggled mightily in the playoffs as his production and minutes decreased due to the fact that he has become some sort of a liability on the defensive end of the floor.
Depending on how the Dallas front office reshapes the roster, Carlisle's successor should prioritize finding a way to take some of the playmaking load off Doncic's shoulders. As dominant as he was in the Mavericks' seven-game first-round loss to the LA Clippers, he wore down some under the apparent strain of creating the vast majority of shots for himself and teammates. During the regular season, backup point guard Jalen Brunson filled that role for Dallas, averaging 12.6 PPG and 3.5 APG while playing 25 minutes per night. But in the playoffs, the 6-foot-1 Brunson struggled against the Clippers' size and versatility on defense, scoring just 18 points total on 7-of-22 shooting over the last four games of the series.
Whether it's finding a better way for Brunson to take advantage of switches or creating more system baskets, the Mavericks must lighten the load on Doncic if they're going to emerge as a serious contender in the Western Conference. Actually, they could use a player a lot like Kidd during his second stint in Dallas, when he was still an exceptional passer but also a dangerous enough 3-point shooter (39% during that span) to provide spacing when sixth man Jason Terry initiated the offense.
As the team’s offseason now turns their focus on rounding out Kidd’s coaching staff, the Mavericks front office is highly pressured to build a better supporting cast around Luka. Talent like that does not come often, especially if you look at the fact that Luka has already garnered two All-NBA First Team selections in his first three years in the league.
That alone is an incredible feat to achieve, especially for a player as young as him. It just indicates how much of a superstar Luka already is, and the crazy thing is that he still has a lot to learn, experience, and improve upon.