AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd never had any patience for players that didn’t lay it on the line every night.
His first practice after being traded to the Nets in 2001 is lore. He dove full out for a loose ball - in practice. The culture of the Nets changed that day.
So it is admirable to see Kidd remain so patient in monitoring Kevin Garnett’s minutes. KG didn’t make the trip to the Motown for Friday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
One night after the Nets beat the San Antonio Spurs in Barclays Center, they got their doors blown off in the Motor City, losing 111-95 to the Pistons. The game was over by halftime, with the Pistons leading 67-44 and having outrebounded the Nets 33-20.
Neither KG nor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might have changed much.
It was the fourth time this season that Kidd rested Garnett on one night of back-to-back games. Garnett has played in 42 of 48 games. He was averaging 6.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in 21.7 minutes going into the Detroit game.
“It’s a long term plan,’’ said Kidd.
There is little question, based on comments on social media, that many Nets fans don’t agree with Kidd’s plan. They want to win and they want to win now.
One would think a rookie coach would have the same mindset. One would think there is an inner urge in the rookie coach to prove he can be successful in this league.
Yet Kidd has remained patient. Perhaps it’s because he saw firsthand how gassed KG and Paul Pierce were by the time last season’s playoffs rolled around. Perhaps it’s because Kidd knew how tired he felt by the playoffs of his last NBA season.
Nets fans must ask themselves this: Would they rather have had KG in the lineup on Feb. 7 against the Pistons or would they prefer a rested and ready Garnett for the first round of the playoffs?
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,’’ said Kidd.
Some might say it’s a flawed plan. What if holding KG out of these games prevents the Nets from making the playoffs?
Have you looked at the Eastern Conference standings? If the Nets can’t make the playoffs while resting KG for a handful of games than there are bigger issues in Brooklyn than Kidd’s plan.
The plan is not etched in stone. Kidd didn’t look at the schedule and decide that the 37-year-old Garnett, playing in his 19th season, would never play back-to-back games.
He said he and Garnett periodically look at the schedule and evaluate what makes sense.
“I don’t have a number in mind,’’ Kidd said of how many games he’ll play Garnett. [It’s] the idea of trying to keep him off the back-to-backs. And then also just understanding where he’s at - talking, communicating that’s the biggest thing, talking and seeing where he’s at. No number.’’
The loss means the Nets (22-26) won’t get to .500 by the All Star break. They host the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday and the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday before playing their final back-to-back before the All Star break on Thursday in Chicago against the Bulls.
It would make sense for KG to play in that back-to-back against the Bobcats and Bulls on the 13th because the Nets don’t play again until the 19th, when they start a six-game West Coast road swing.
Garnett was less than thrilled about Kidd’s plan from the get go. Kidd said that hasn’t changed.
“He’s a competitor,’’ Kidd said of KG. “That’s who he is. That’s his makeup since he started playing the game. He wants to compete and he wants to help his teammates win.’’
“Is it easier? I don’t know if it’s easier but we have to do what’s best for him and us as a team.’’
Only time will tell if resting KG was best for both.