Jason Kidd isn’t going anywhere.
Exactly two months after Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry addressed rumors of organizational dissatisfaction with Kidd by saying "he’s our guy," the team has apparently confirmed that confidence by extending the head coach’s contract for a reported three years and $18 million.
Yahoo Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the story, citing league sources, and other outlets have substantiated it. The extension would keep Kidd in Milwaukee through 2020.
Kidd had one year left on the original deal he signed in 2014, which was for $15 million, when the Bucks hired him away from the Nets amid controversy stemming from a failed power grab in Brooklyn. In his first season, Kidd led a Bucks team that had finished the previous season a franchise-worst 15-67 to a 41-41 record, a 26-win improvement that got them into the playoffs.
But despite the offseason addition of Greg Monroe and the healthy return of 2014 No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker, plus the high expectations for the young talent and renewed excitement around the franchise, Milwaukee disappointed last year, regressing to 33-49. That prompted reports that ownership might be unhappy with the performance of Kidd, a 10-time All-Star as a player who underwent hip surgery last December and missed 17 games.
In his two seasons, the 43-year-old Kidd is 74-90. A personal friend of Lasry’s since before he became the Bucks coach and a highly respected figure across the league, Kidd – always with his calm, monotone responses to questions – never really seemed concerned about his job security.
On April 13, before the season finale at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Kidd provided a refreshingly candid assessment.
"We’re always judged on our record. Our owners want to go 82-0; the standards are high. Some will say we took a step back from last year," he said. "Coaching, I can do better and will do better. Looking at our defense, I think it’s something we have to address. We gave up way too many threes as a whole. The league is going that way, so we have to make that adjustment.
"Our record isn’t where we want it to be, but we're not that far off. Being one of the youngest teams, I think we can take another big step next year. For me, I'm going to be here as long as my ownership wants me here. I still have a year on my deal."
Later that day, Lasry was asked about Kidd’s deservedness of a contract extension.
"At the end of the day, Jason is our coach," Lasry said. "I know there's been a bunch of articles. We think he's done a great job. He's our guy."
Co-owner Wes Edens added at the time, "Jason is a young coach. We all have a lot of room to grow. We're happy with all the progress that has been made in many areas. We're not happy about 33 wins."
Kidd’s extension and other recent moves suggest the team wants to continue heading in a younger, more dynamic direction, both on and off the court. Parker and 21-year-old rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo are still very much the faces of the franchise, but the front office has quietly added an esteemed basketball blogger as a consultant in its analytics department and hired former Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik for the same position in Milwaukee. Zanik is the presumed successor to GM John Hammond, who has one year left on his deal.
On June 18, during the second annual Bucks Block Party event, the organization will break ground on its new arena, a $524 million project – with $250 million in public financing – set to be completed in 2018.
According to the Yahoo Sports article, "Kidd has had designs on a management role, but appears to have an understanding with ownership that his future with the franchise will be as coach, not general manager."
After he demanded more power and a role above GM Billy King in Brooklyn – and after thus-far inaccurate reports of wanting something similar with the Bucks – it’s not unreasonable to wonder if a contract extension for Kidd might include language allowing for his eventual ascent to an operational position (perhaps in conjunction with head coaching duties), such as director of player personnel. There are multiple NBA head coaches who are also their team’s presidents of basketball operations, including the Timberwolves’ Tom Thibodeau, the Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers.
Is this a good move for the Bucks? What do you think of Kidd's performance? Let us know in the comments!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.