Fixed Floating Elements

Nets Ready to Cook in Brooklyn

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins
BROOKLYNNETS.COM

BROOKLYN—That renovated, upgraded and edgy kitchen in Brooklyn, the one you've been waiting for since July when the Nets pulled off the blockbuster trade of the offseason? It opened today.

The health department grade is pending. Give it a G.E. for now - Great Expectations.

"All the ingredients are in that locker room,'' Paul Pierce said at the team's media day at Barclays Center, the day before one of the most intriguing training camps in NBA history opens.

Pierce proceeded to tick off the ingredients in the special sauce:

Youth. Size. Experience. Talent. Depth.

It could be quite the house special served every night on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

But the man who has been charged with bringing those ingredients to a championship boil is no master chef. He's never been an apprentice no less a sous chef.

There is no denying Jason Kidd's legacy as one of the NBA's all-time great point guards, no arguing that every team he played for improved the minute he walked in the door.

But Kidd has never coached a regular season NBA game, never served as an assistant, never held a clipboard. Kidd got his first 'Welcome to the NBA Coaching Fraternity,' moment over the summer, when he was called for a technical foul for wandering out of the coaching box, the equivalent of not knowing where the salt is.

Which begs the question that will be asked of the goings on in that Brooklyn kitchen:

Can a rookie head coach lead a team with hardened, future Hall of Famers in Pierce and Kevin Garnett, a mercurial talent in point guard Deron Williams, a clutch shooting guard in Joe Johnson, a young All Star center in Brook Lopez and a deep bench that management spared no expense to assemble, to an NBA title?

"The obstacles are there for us all,'' said Garnett. "Jason's a proven winner. He's won before. He was great leader. I played with him in the Olympics and got to see him firsthand - and never forgot it.''

"Jason goes a hundred and ten miles per hour,'' added Garnett. "If you're not working at that rate then he's going to tell you about it.''

Really? Kidd is going to give KG a piece of his mind? Doc Rivers earned that right.

Kidd and KG already are 'negotiating' how to handle back-to-back games. Kidd wants to rest the veteran forward on the back end. KG, a warrior's warrior, is waiting to decide if he'll sign on for a night off, proof positive that the fire still burns for the 37-year-old.

Kidd hasn't ducked questions and skepticism about his lack of experience. There's no getting around the fact that when the Nets open the season on Oct. 30 at Cleveland, it will be the first time he has sat in the first chair - at any level.

"There's always something to be proven that I know what I'm doing,'' he said. "Will I make a mistake and maybe sit someone too long? I think that every coach has done that.

"So I can't eliminate myself from that. But it will be a learning experience and when you have older guys they tend to take it a little easier on you.''

In addition to the cache' Kidd has built from his work as a former star, he'll have help on the bench. Former head coach Lawrence Frank, one of the game's great young minds, will serve as Kidd's lieutenant. There's no doubt he'll have a say in the X's and O's, rotation, timeouts, etc.

But Kidd will have to make the instantaneous calls on his own. He'll have to earn the player's trust, not an easy order. Lord knows the coaching ranks are littered with former great players that couldn't make the transition to successful coach.

Kidd spent the summer taking a crash course in NBA coaching. There were phone calls with Doc Rivers about KG and Pierce. There was a clinic in L.A. that featured a Who's Who of coaches - Tim Grgurich, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Frank Vogel, Rivers.

"Just sharing information,'' said Kidd. "Not the secret sauce, but their information and what they do to be good.''

Ah, we're back in the kitchen. There is prime beef and a full spice rack. There are Le Creuset pots and pans. And there is Kidd, the unproven mixer and shaker.

"Nobody's ever been coached by him so I can't ask anybody, 'How's Jason Kidd as a coach?'' said Andray Blatche. "Because nobody knows.''

Nope, nobody knows.

All indications are that Kidd should thrive. He might not have been the most athletic player on the court every night in his illustrious career but his basketball I.Q. was off the charts. He was a human triple double.

"For him to be that good, that long and that successful, to have a career like that, and as a point guard, too, it's not like he was a big man being told what to do,'' said rookie Mason Plumlee.

"He was telling people where to be. He was the leader of his team wherever he was. I look at him more as a leader. He has the title of a coach but he's been a leader for the 17 years he played. Now he's just a leader in a suit.''

Kidd was one of the best ever to wear an NBA jersey and he looks dashing in an Italian designer suit. But now it's time to put on the apron.

Brooklyn has the appetite for a championship dish.

Nets Central

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