NEW YORK -- The first challenge for Deron Williams will be figuring out how to address Jason Kidd from now on.
Kidd is Williams’ good friend, mentor and now head coach. Williams admits it will be hard going from referring to Kidd as "J" to "coach." But Williams insists that will be the only difficult transition in their relationship. He has no issues taking direction and constructive criticism from his close friend, whom D-Will has learned the game from since the two bonded on Team USA and won gold in 2008.
“I don’t see it being a problem,” Williams said. “Not at all. I respect ‘J’ a lot and I am eager to learn from him and take direction from him.”
“He is one of the smartest players to ever play this game and I think he will make a great coach," he added. "I know he will have to get on me at times and that is fine.”
Kidd already started pushing the right buttons on his first official day as Brooklyn Nets head coach. Kidd praised Williams whenever he could during his introductory news conference. With Williams sitting in the first row with agent Jeff Schwartz, who represents both Kidd and Williams, the Nets coach spoke about Williams leading his team. He talked about leaning on Williams to be what he was like on the floor.
“I have a lot to learn about coaching, but when I played the game I felt like I was an extension of the coach,” Kidd said. “I look to Deron to be that guy to execute the game plan that I think that we can win.”
“You have to start with structure, understanding we’re here to build something,” Kidd later added. “You have to have structure and understand it starts with your leader. When you look at Deron, I think he’s one of the best in the league at that. That’s your best player and he’s going to be the one that’s going to relay the message as much as guys will hear me talking.”
Kidd said he will try to lighten Williams’ workload by taking the ballhandling duties out of his hands to free up Williams on offense.
“My experience as a player playing against Brooklyn, once they got to 88, 89 points, they kind of unplugged,” Kidd said. “I want this team to be able to explore early, kind of get up and down. But you can’t forget about [Brook] Lopez, because he is a big key to their success. But I want to be able to use guys in different positions where Deron isn’t the only one bringing the ball up.”
Williams said he will only get better with Kidd directing him from the bench. The point guard likes the plans for the Nets Kidd has discussed with him. And he is looking forward to the idea of playing a faster tempo with Kidd adding an element of toughness -- one of Kidd’s best traits -- to the team.
“I think [toughness] was a big problem for us in the playoffs this year,” Williams said. “Toughness and intensity. And hopefully that is something we talked about kind of implementing early on.”
Williams and Kidd have had numerous conversations in the past about one day teaming up together. Now they’re together but in a capacity they never envisioned before.
“I don’t foresee that being a problem,” general manager Billy King said of Kidd and Williams adjusting their relationship. “Jason wants to be great. Jason doesn’t do anything just to be doing it. He’s not going to allow something to derail him just because of a personal relationship. I think he’s going to coach Deron as hard as he coaches Brook, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace.”