Let’s recap Jason Kidd’s first year as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, which took place just four months after he retired as a player:
* Kidd has one of his players purposely bump into him to spill water on the court and cause a delay; Kidd was fined
* Paul Pierce called out Kidd one month into the season
* Kidd demoted an assistant coach he hired, Lawrence Frank, as the team limped to a 5-14 start
* Nets lost center Brook Lopez for the season with a broken foot
* Eventually, the Nets turned it around, swept the Heat in the regular season (4-0), and made the playoffs
* Despite not having homecourt, they beat the Raptors in the 1st round
* Lost to the (eventual champion?) Heat 4-1 in the 2nd round
How did the Nets turn it around? They had two Hall of Famers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. They had Joe Johnson, a shot maker who is grotesquely overpaid, but still a very good shooter. Oh, and their point guard, Deron Williams, has for much of his career been a Top 7 point guard in the NBA (though he was very bad in the postseason).
The Nets turned it around and saved the season because Brooklyn had a roster teeming with talented players.
Derek Fisher won’t be nearly as lucky in New York unless Phil Jackson can pull a rabbit out of James Dolan’s hat in July. New York’s roster has significantly less talent, and it isn’t even a given that Carmelo Anthony returns. Jason Kidd had to manage mouthy Kevin Garnett; Derek Fisher has to deal with knucklehead JR Smith in New York.
Ordinarily, I’d say Fisher going into a spot with low expectations – 37 wins, no playoffs last season – is an ideal training ground for a rookie coach, but this is New York. The media is angrier than the notoriously delusional fan base. The Knicks now have a rookie president (Jackson) and a rookie coach (Fisher). Short of some miracles in the next six weeks – sneak into the 1st round of the draft; somehow trade for Kevin Love – all the signs in Year 1 point to a disaster. Across the bridge, the Johnson/Williams/Garnett/Lopez quartet – Pierce is a free agent – should have the Nets in the 47-53 win range. That’ll go over real well with Knicks fans.
What, is Tyson Chandler suddenly going to turn into the defensive force he was in Dallas? Are Amare’s knees going to travel back to 2011? Will Jackson/Fisher somehow find a point guard?