It’s roughly 24 hours since Jason Kidd was fired. Much of Bucks Twitter was able to rejoice. Goodbye to the Fire Kidd avatars (thank goodness), adios to #FireKidd, and deuces to “energy and effort.” The team will move on with Joe Prunty taking over the interim duties, but there are a myriad of topics General Manager Jon Horst and the ownership group, LED, will have to address.
Joe Prunty and Sean Sweeney
As Jon Horst confirmed during Monday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, Joe Prunty will be coaching the Bucks for the remainder of the season. This could give him a chance to throw his hat into the ring for the head coach opening this summer. Prunty was an assistant under Gregg Popovich which always looks good on a resume. If he is able to spark a run and get the team playing to expectations, he could have a chance to be the coach. For Sweeney however, he is next in the crosshairs for any defensive criticisms. Sweeney has been dubbed as the architect of the defensive scheme and with Jason Kidd gone, Sweeney doesn’t have anywhere to hide. He does work with Giannis 24/7 and has been serving that same role for Thon, so it will be interesting to see if that relationship gets strained. Eric Nehm and Frank Madden discuss that topic, and much, much more, in today’s Locked on Bucks by the way, a must listen.
The biggest beneficiary to this move has to be Jon Horst. A week ago while appearing on a local radio show, Horst had said he doesn’t have the power to fire Kidd and it was a collaborative effort. Flash forward and in his letter to Bucks fans, Horst said that he made the decision with unanimous support from ownership. Horst also seems to be flexing his muscles with the following quote below.
Bucks GM Jon Horst asked why this move was made now— Justin Garcia (@tmjgarcia) January 22, 2018
“If something’s inevitable, why wait?”
Horst seems to be asserting his power more over this team as he grows comfortable in this role and this move will give him more control over constructing this roster. His time as Bucks Gm can be viewed in a very positive way with trading for Bledsoe, not caving on Jabari contract talks, cutting bait on players that are not good enough like GP2 and Liggins, and now being the force that led to Kidd’s dismal. He did whiff on his first round draft pick in D.J. Wilson but hopefully he can salvage his career in the next few years. There were plenty of fans who believed that Kidd was calling some shots with acquiring players behind-the-scenes. Thankfully, those rumors can now be put to rest.
The first time the owners tried hiring a head coach, they traded for Kidd while they still technically had Larry Drew as. It was a bad look for the organization. After John Hammond went to be the General Manager for the Orlando Magic, the owners stumbled and became a laughingstock in their GM search and eventual surprise hiring of Jon Horst. Third time’s charm I suppose, so Milwaukee needs to make sure to get this decision correct; the position should be appealing with a top-five player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, some good pieces in Brogdon, Middleton, and Bledsoe and a new arena. The right choice is imperative, as a good coach could make Milwaukee a possible Eastern Conference contender and will set the franchise forward or backward (mediocre is considered backward). Edens/Lasry/Dinan need to make the hiring process as low drama as possible for once, particularly in a summer where the big news will be unveiling their fancy new arena.
Roster and rotations
Kidd’s dismissal might have the lowest impact on the roster. Horst will be the one who constructs the roster while Prunty will go about his tactics and rotations. It is possible Prunty will shift his rotations to either have it be more consistent or allow some players like Sean Kilpatrick/D.J. Wilson to see the court. One thing we can all agree on, just give Middleton and Giannis a few less oncourt minutes please.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is reportedly a loyal person, so initial reports that he was “devastated” about Kidd’s firing isn’t surprising. What really caught myself and Bucks nation off guard was Kidd spilling the beans in a seemingly private conversation he had with Giannis moments before he was fired.
Jason Kidd tells ESPN that Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo called him about 15 minutes before Kidd was officially notified he'd been fired by the Bucks and offered to help save his job.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 23, 2018
This is a very bad look on Kidd’s part while for Giannis, I think it shows how much he cares for those that help his career. We have to keep in mind that Giannis is now on his third coach (Prunty) and eventually a fourth coach in his five NBA seasons, that is a lot of turnover for a young player to face. He also saw his first general manager, the man who drafted him, depart this past summer. Giannis has a right to be upset but he wants to win more than anything and ownership know that. Kidd being gone will sting but winning will take away whatever pain that’s there.
For the short-term, Milwaukee will continue to try and climb up the standing in the Eastern Conference. No matter who is coaching the team the expectations are still the same; win 50 games, host a playoff series, and advanced past the first round. For the long term, that creates a bigger mystery; find your own Brad Stevens and we are looking at a team that can be exciting and live up to the expectations ownership has always had in building a championship roster. If Milwaukee botches this, you’re most likely looking at stagnation/decline, possibly jeopardizing convincing your once in a generational talent to stay and forcing the organization to hit the reset button. #OwntheFuture is dead and gone, it’s time for Milwaukee capitalize in the present.