Jason Kidd is one of the best point guards in NBA history, but that doesn’t qualify him to fix the Lakers offense for LeBron James.
If the Lakers fire coach Luke Walton after this season, the team could turn to Jason Kidd, but would that solve the problems that ail them?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Kidd will be a candidate who will be a “serious candidate” if Walton does get the axe. Kidd was last employed as a coach by the Bucks who made the decision to fire him approximately halfway through the 2017-18 season. Milwaukee was 23-22 at the time, but the coaching staff wasn’t getting enough out of Giannis Antetokounmpo and company to satisfy the team’s ownership.
The number one requirement for the next Lakers coach is to be able to garner the trust and respect of LeBron James. The team’s best player may not possess quite the level of control in Los Angeles that he enjoyed in Cleveland, but he’s still calling a lot of the shots. No head coach is going to patrol the sidelines for the Lakers that James does not approve.
That shouldn’t be the only requirement for Walton’s potential successor though. The next head coach of the Lakers will need to find a way to bring the team’s offense into the modern era. Isolation ball just doesn’t work in the NBA any longer. To succeed in the modern playoffs, offenses need to move the ball with pace and shoot three-point shots at a prodigious clip. The Lakers haven’t done either of those things well this season and rank 21st in the NBA in offense as a result.
In fairness to Walton, he showed a clear preference to play that way prior to James’ arrival. The Lakers offense bogged down this season with James playing alongside a disjointed group of veterans who can’t really space the floor. The Lakers front office deserves a great deal of blame for the team’s inability to make the playoffs this year.
Presumably, the personnel will improve next year. The Lakers have a ton of money to spend in free agency and in theory, players will want to come to LA to play with LeBron. The key will be for the team’s next head coach to command respect from the new roster and showcase a talent for instilling a modern, up-tempo offense.
Kidd has the ability to inspire confidence in the locker room, but nothing about his tenure with the Bucks shows him to be a progressive offensive mind. If anything, he was let go in Milwaukee because of his unwillingness to embrace the modern game.
The Lakers would be much wiser to spend their energy searching for a head coach who can make their offensive game plan look a lot more like the Warriors.
Letting Walton go seems like a foregone conclusion for the Lakers, but replacing him with Kidd isn’t likely to yield any meaningful gains. Instead, it could leave the Lakers even further behind their Western Conference peers.