The most highly anticipated press conference in Milwaukee Bucks franchise history answered some important questions, evaded others, and ultimately confirmed what we already should have known: Jason Kidd's tenure in Milwaukee will ultimately be judged based on performance on the court rather than in front of a microphone.
Kidd was officially introduced as the 14th Head Coach in Bucks' history today on the floor of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The 41-year-old sophomore coach left Brooklyn after one season and arrives in Milwaukee after a four-day news hurricane that saw Kidd released from his Nets' contract in exchange for two future second-round picks.
"I would like to thank Wes [Edens] and Marc [Lasry] for giving me this opportunity," said Kidd. "I'm very excited to be here in Milwaukee, to be a part of the young talented roster, and the excitement of the draft and getting Jabari Parker. But it's not just about him, it's about the other guys. This is a family and I'm happy to be welcomed into this family and looking forward for good things to come in the future, but also today. This is about the Milwaukee Bucks, so I'm very happy for this opportunity."
It's a bold and controversial move that has left the Bucks open to a lot of questions, especially for a franchise that doesn't have a rich history in the "bold and controversial" move department. Perhaps the biggest question of them all was in regards to the controversy surrounding the hiring process, one that saw outgoing coach Larry Drew not informed of his termination until after New York outlets broke news of the Bucks' courtship of Kidd. Sitting next to Kidd, GM John Hammond and fellow co-owner Wes Edens, Marc Lasry addressed the timeline of the Bucks' pursuit while admitting mistakes were made.
"Once we got permission to speak to Jason, we spoke to him. Wes and I met with him. I think we then brought John in when I think the news had broken. And then from that moment on John handled discussions and negotiations as to what we should be doing."
So, why not bring Hammond in earlier in that process?
"We were asked to keep it confidential, and we did. I think honestly, in retrospect, that was a mistake. I think we've learned a lot in the last couple of days about, sort of, the process, and I think that was our fault."
As for his controversial departure from Brooklyn, Kidd offered unsurprisingly few details on the reported power play that effectively ended his tenure with the Nets.
"It's business. I think Billy [King] said it best. It's business, and that's what it comes down to."
The brief press conference cut short the chance to elaborate much on this particular angle of the story, but both Lasry and Edens provided more details in an interview with Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel afterwards.
In a separate interview following the news conference, Lasry and Edens said they learned some lessons in how to approach a hiring after news of their pursuit of Kidd leaked out, without the knowledge of then Bucks coach Larry Drew or Hammond.
The Bucks fired Drew on Monday when an agreement with Kidd was reached.
"We were naïve about how this business is put out to the press," Edens said. "We are used to operating in businesses where discretion is necessary and part of the fabric of it.
"The degree to which the media plays an integral role in basketball was a shock to me."
Lasry and Edens said they plan to have clear channels of communication in the future and will be involved along with Kidd and Hammond.
"We made the mistake of taking them at face value with what they asked us to do," Edens said of the Nets owners, who asked for confidentiality in the talks.
Edens said he thought the deal was dead on Saturday "and two hours later I read about it online."
Lasry said he apologized to Hammond when he first informed him of the talks with Kidd because the general manager had not been included in the initial process.
Hammond then talked to Drew to tell him about the change. Lasry said he called the coach a bit later.
"I apologized to Larry for the process and how everything went about," Lasry said. "I said, 'I'm very sorry. You've been a gentleman about the whole thing. I'm sorry how this all happened.'
"We had a great conversation. His reaction was, 'Look, I understand it's a business.'"
Fresh off a season that saw him win two coach of the month awards and a first round playoff series against Toronto, Kidd will now take over the task of bringing the young Bucks up to a level of play that gets Milwaukee excited about their team and helps chip away at the assumption that a small market can't thrive. It's not an easy challenge, but Kidd appears to be focused in on the proper areas.
"I think it's not about the market. It's about being able to teach, and I have a great opportunity here in Milwaukee with the young roster. Our goal is to become a championship team...I've played in small markets. I've played in big markets. Basketball is inside the arena; it doesn't recognize the market you're in. It's about the wins and losses, and that's the way I approach it."
And as for Hammond's future? Edens, Lasry and Kidd all insisted that the veteran GM was indeed in charge of basketball decisions while Kidd was merely the coach, an arrangement that many have questioned in light of Kidd's reported attempts to overstep King's authority in Brooklyn. Still, the mere fact that Hammond was on stage Wednesday would seem somewhat telling.
There are still some unanswered questions as the Bucks move forward with their new owners and head coach, but for now it appears as if the right guys are in place to start building this franchise back up to something legitimate. It's hard to make sense of all this while big changes continue to be made, but our pal Jeremy Schmidt over at Bucksketball did a really good job of summing things up.
They all got what they wanted and they'll all be moving forward, chasing a championship at any cost. While Bucks fans are justified when wondering about just how that's going to happen, it's still more fun than a team doing boilerplate things to chase the eighth seed. We can always reflect back on that and wonder if this is better.