If Jason Kidd leaves, in stunning fashion, as widely expected, the Brooklyn Nets could go in a number of directions.
But only one direction makes sense: With a win-now roster, the Nets need to hire a win-now coach.
Brooklyn native Mark Jackson, George Karl and Lionel Hollins, candidates ESPNNewYork.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported the team would be interested in, all fit that description.
Garnett, 38, slated to make a guaranteed $12 million in 2014-15, is expected to return for his 20th season, but it’s unknown how this development will affect his decision.
Pierce, 36, will become an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Nets can pay him more than any other team because they hold his Bird rights, but a reunion with his former coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles could be extremely appealing. Pierce and Kidd are both represented by power agent Jeff Schwartz.
The Nets already have $88.5 million committed to nine players, so they have far exceeded the salary cap. As a result, they need to keep Garnett and Pierce, since they cannot replace them with comparable talent.
Jackson, Karl and Hollins all seemingly have the accolades and pedigree required to garner respect from the likes of Garnett and Pierce, who are both headed to the Hall of Fame once their prolific playing careers are over.
Garnett and Pierce may not have much left in the tank, but they provide so much in the form of defense and leadership.
Shaun Livingston, who had a career season, is also an unrestricted free agent. The Nets have been bracing for his departure because they cannot pay him as much as other teams. Livingston proved to be a key cog in the team’s turnaround after he stepped into the starting lineup in 2014. Livingston is also represented by Schwartz.
Garnett, Pierce and Livingston all loved playing for Kidd, who helped persuade Garnett to waive his no-trade clause to come to Brooklyn and pushed for management to sign Livingston.
Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are all owed massive amounts of money. Nets GM Billy King is expected to at least gauge what type of return Williams and Lopez could fetch on the trade market, but both players are coming off surgery, which diminishes their value.
Ultimately, the Nets may be better off without Kidd, who had just completed his first season as coach. Plus, they are expected to be compensated by the Bucks in some form assuming he does leave for Milwaukee.
However, Brooklyn would be worse off without Garnett and Pierce -- even with both players being in the final stage of their careers.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nets go with an out-of-left-field candidate. After all, they have done it before by hiring Kidd.
The Nets took a chance by bringing in the best player in franchise history, and it blew up in their faces. Kidd’s No. 5 jersey hangs in the rafters at Barclays Center, and he holds an extremely minuscule ownership stake.
If Kidd were to stay, it would create an awkward dynamic between himself and King, given that Kidd pushed to have more power than the GM.
The Nets need to get this hire right -- and it needs to be a win-now coach for their win-now roster.