NEW YORK -- Jason Kidd could not even get to his 20th game as an NBA coach without embarrassing himself, and more than once, too. He pulled a Mike Tomlin before Mike Tomlin could, and he fired a mentor he spent the summer recruiting with all the restraint of a teenage girl chasing after Justin Bieber's car.
Brooklyn Nets executives warned Kidd that running off his mentor/assistant/friend/former head coach Lawrence Frank a mere 17 games into a six-year commitment would make the franchise look more dysfunctional off the court than on it.
[+] EnlargeBrad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJason Kidd will have to do a whole lot more than clap to turn the Nets around."All the consequences were laid out for him," a league source said. And Kidd went ahead and put down Frank anyway, quitting on a rocky relationship because it was the easy thing to do.
So is it any surprise that the Nets quit on Kidd again Thursday night, on national TV and on his home Brooklyn floor with the 3-13 New York Knicks in the house? Right now, he's coaching a heartless one, too.
The Knicks won by a 113-83 count, outscoring Brooklyn by 18 points in the third quarter, the quarter that routinely serves as a bottomless pit for the Nets.
You know, the quarter that routinely follows the locker room sessions where coaches like Jason Kidd are supposed to make their halftime adjustments.
The Knicks entered the Barclays Center shooting 42 percent from the field, and they shot 57 against Kidd's Nets. The Knicks were shooting 32 percent from 3-point range in their first 16 games, and they shot 59 percent from 3 in their 17th.
"Tonight," Kidd said of the Knicks, "it looked like the team of last year, where they made a lot of 3s."
Jason Kidd was a big part of that team until his 40-year-old body broke down in the end, leaving him literally unable to make a shot. As a visionary at the point, one of the all-time greats, Kidd is finding that it's a lot easier to be a coach on the floor than a coach on the sideline.
While it's true that Frank did a dreadful job with Brooklyn's defense -- especially in light of the fact he was given an unprecedented contract for an NBA assistant -- it's also true that the same defense was shredded in consecutive home games against Denver and the Knicks with Frank locked out of the gym.
"Lawrence Frank is the guy Jason wanted to bring in; nobody inside pushed it on him at all," the league source said. But Kidd and Frank are control freaks who couldn't control their suddenly volatile mentor-protege relationship, a truth compelling Kidd -- a card-carrying coach killer in college and the pros -- to move on his guy and then to discuss the termination with all the compassion of some red-eyed cyborg.
From Olympic gold to an NBA title, Two nights after Timofey Mozgov collected 17 points and 20 rebounds in 31 minutes against his team, and a few hours after he claimed the Nets were "closer than maybe the public thinks," Kidd watched the Knicks snap their nine-game losing streak by sinking 16 of 27 3s while making the Barclays Center sound an awful lot like Madison Square Garden.
No, the Nets didn't have Deron Williams or Pierce in a starting five advertised in the preseason as the league's best, but Pierce has been awful, anyway, and the Knicks were going without their second-best player, Tyson Chandler.
"We feel we have enough talent to win," Kidd conceded, "but we're coming up short." When the Nets tried but failed to hire Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers, when they were left with a bunch of George Karls and Lionel Hollinses and Brian Shaws to choose from, I thought Kidd made a lot of sense.
ESPNNY.com looks back at the greatest moments in the feud for bragging rights between the Knicks and Nets. That was before Shaw, coach of the 11-7 Nuggets, embarrassed Kidd and the Nets on Tuesday night.
"There's a lot of moving parts here," Garnett said.
They're all moving in the wrong direction. Way back when, Kidd took a 26-win New Jersey Nets team to two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. Carmelo Anthony called the Knicks "the laughingstock of the league" the other day, but after four quarters of the city game Thursday night, the joke was most definitely on Jason Kidd.