On occasion, Jason Kidd falls into spastic fits and starts Gary Payton II in professional basketball games. Last week, he sent an 84 percent free throw shooter to the line in crunch time on purpose. His logic? Better to let the Pistons, who trailed by four at the time, get twos at the free throw line as opposed to threes. In fairness, the Bucks — outside of Giannis Antetkounmpo — are an excellent free throw shooting team, and the Pistons had just nailed two triples in a row. And the Bucks won.
In Kidd’s rookie season as a head coach with the Nets, Brook Lopez, the team’s best player, broke his foot amid a 9-17 start. In a moment before it was fashionable, Kidd resorted to slinking all his starters down a spot, which put Kevin Garnett at the center and Paul Pierce at power forward, and switching everything defensively. They thrived on small ball and fast hands. Two years later, in Milwaukee, Kidd started a gangly 6’11 prospect from Greece, a lanky bundle of potentially, at point guard. So proceeded a season of mistakes that led, eventually, to The Greek Freak.
All of which is to say: Jason Kidd is a different type of dude. He has been a different type of dude to varying degrees of success and failure, and after years of experimentation in relative obscurity, he has never seemingly failed as publicly as he is right now, courtesy of the spotlight that accompanies being charged with developing the best young talent in the NBA.
Antetokounmpo’s growth has accelerated Milwaukee’s timeline, so the criticism of Kidd might just be a case of pulling a chicken out of the oven after fifteen minutes and wondering, with incredulity, “Hey, why’s this thing undercooked?”
On the other hand, three-and-a-half years in, it’s reasonable to wonder whether time is an antidote. To that end, the addition of Eric Bledsoe might be the only reason management hasn’t burnt this whole thing down yet.