Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd might be getting another lead gig soon.
Kidd is expected to interview for the Boston Celtics head coaching vacancy, according to Chris Haynes. He will also be considered for the Portland Trail Blazers position if the team decides to make a change, according to Haynes and Marc Stein.
Kidd has been a head coach with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. He went 183-190 in the regular season and 9-15 in the playoffs. He has tons of experience as a player and won a championship with the Lakers as an assistant, but his resume doesn’t exactly scream “must hire”.
Let’s start with the Celtics vacancy. I’m not really sure what Boston is up to with its shifting organizational chart, but Kidd is a significant downgrade from Brad Stevens on a Xs and Os level. The Celtics have also made three conference finals under Stevens, a round Kidd has never seen as a coach. Boston wasn’t healthy in the playoffs and although they likely wouldn’t have beaten the Nets, it’s an interesting change to make. I don’t think Kidd is a good fit with the Celtics, but I’m not sure a coach better than Stevens will be available this summer.
The Trail Blazers are coming off their fifth first-round exit under Stotts and according to Stein and others, there is expected be a change at coach. It’s hard to sell running everything back to the fan base, but Stotts have been solid in Portland. He’s been able to elevate a middle-of-the-road team in the West on paper, even reaching the conference finals in 2018-19. And there’s the question of making sure Damian Lillard, the face of the franchise, is happy with this decision. He has a strong relationship with Stotts.
One name to look out for if the Blazers do switch things up is David Vanterpool. He was Portland’s assistant coach from 2012-19 and reportedly played a big role in Lillard and CJ McCollum’s development as a backcourt pairing. He’ll also have Lillard’s endorsement.
There’s two thoughts an organization can have about coaches. The first is coaches matter significantly and hiring the wrong one can be a disaster. The second is coaches don’t matter ahead of the talent on the floor. I personally feel a bad coach will prevent a good team from being great, but a great coach cannot make a bad team good.
The Celtics and Trail Blazers have decent rosters, but probably aren’t widely considered championship contenders. Kidd wouldn’t necessarily qualify as a bad coach, but he’s definitely not a great one yet. Coaches like Frank Vogel, Nate McMillan and Tom Thibodeau have bounced back after rough stints with the Magic, Pacers and Timberwolves respectively, but there’s no guarantees Kidd can provide a similar impact. But the desire to make changes after a disappointing season might push teams towards this decision. It’s easier to change the coach than the players, so expect Kidd to be in contention for gigs as they open up across the league.