One Direction: Lasry, Edens, Hammond and Kidd

The Big Four: Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, Jason Kidd and John Hammond. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
The Big Four: Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, Jason Kidd and John Hammond. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Give Marc Lasry and Wes Edens some credit: They’ve put their stamp on the Milwaukee Bucks organization quickly. They want to rebuild and appear to be committed to that being a long term process. While they wait for wins to arrive, they’ll collect talent and act decisively when they get the chance to acquire the talent they want.

Jabari Parker was first. They, along with the rest of the Bucks organization, made him feel welcome and very bluntly told him he was the guy they wanted.

Next, Lasry and Edens identified Jason Kidd as an available talent once his agent reached out to them. After his one season in Brooklyn they felt he was a coaching prospect too tantalizing for them to pass up when the opportunity to speak with him was offered. They didn’t open up the interview process and act like it was a multiple man race. Kidd was their guy. They acted decisively. Too decisively, actually.

After hearing from Kidd’s representation, they made a mistake. They didn’t get John Hammond involved or relieve Larry Drew of his duties. Drew and his staff went through the draft operating as if they’d be coaching the players they were drafting, when Lasry and Edens had already requested permission to speak with the Nets about Jason Kidd.

Drew wasn’t fired until Monday and Hammond wasn’t brought into the conversation until negotiations to bring Kidd to the Bucks were already taking place. Hammond began handling them at that point, but word had already leaked out to the media and perceptions were forming about roles going forward.

Lasry said it was a mistake of newness.

“We’ve learned a lot in this process,” Lasry said. “Our view, and it hasn’t changed from the beginning, is all the basketball operations and everything goes through John. And I think in this process we’ve learned we made a mistake. ”

So far the Bucks have made two big decisions since the new owners took over. The draft pick seemed to have gone through Hammond. The coach did not. He’s saying the right things now about how excited he is about Milwaukee’s future going forward, but time will tell how operations are run in Milwaukee. Lasry and Edens insisted that what they want to do is let basketball people handle basketball decisions.

At the very least, everyone does seem to be working towards the same goal, even if they aren’t always on the same page.

When Lasry and Edens intervened, they didn’t do so in a direction changing way. They’ve laid out an identity for the team that most people can get on board with, Hammond and Kidd included. There’s been concern that the sloppiness of how this was all handled could be indicative of poor process going forward, which would scare off potential presidential candidates. And I admit that it seems quite backwards to have a coach who wasn’t hired by the general manager and a general manager who won’t have been hired by the president.

Wonky structure aside, whoever is eventually brought on as president will know his goal is a long term rebuild, presumably with Hammond and Kidd in place. The vision has been dictated by ownership, and they’re merely seeking out those they think are the best basketball people to get them to that goal. They want people who can map out the strategy and execute the tactics.

Kidd is their tactics guy. He’s here to develop young players and lead the team forward on the court. Hammond appears to be the strategy guy, though it’s naive to suspect Kidd won’t have some say here too. And maybe that Kidd power grab could still be coming, though it doesn’t appear to be something that’ll happen in the immediate future. So they still need one more piece to this puzzle, and whoever it is, it doesn’t appear that he’ll get to put his stamp on this franchise the way that some presidents do, but at least he’ll be able to see the direction the franchise wants to go in and know who he’ll be working with.

The press conference was short and a bit more somber than the retired jerseys and colorful welcome messages outside the Bradley Center had me believe it was going to be. They all saved their most relevant answers for interviews that took place after. But none of the parties involved seemed to feel much regret.

They all got what they wanted and they’ll all be moving forward, chasing a championship at any cost. While Bucks fans are justified when wondering about just how that’s going to happen, it’s still more fun than a team doing boilerplate things to chase the eighth seed. We can always reflect back on that and wonder if this is better.

It is.

Categories: Coaching,Ownership

I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

25 Comments

  1. Imo – Drew was not the right guy – so, he had to go. Is Kidd the right guy and does he have the track record to prove it? I don’t know, and no. Did they follow the right process in hiring Kidd? Probably not, but, this is the NBA and I’m not really worried about hurting anybody’s feelings – Drew will still get paid by the Bucks so – meh. Am I excited about the Bucks this year and will I buy tickets? Yes and yes. After the last few years of an organization that just didn’t seem to care about winning, I’m glad we are doing something!

    • Well put.

      The only things I’m concerned about after this all went down is how the management structure plays out going forward and whether or not Jason Kidd really is the right fit to develop these young players and lead them to a potential championship.

      On face value alone I suspect that while Jason Kidd brings an undeniable passion, intensity, and competitiveness that’s extremely desirable at a possibly the most important leadership position, plus possesses the ability to pass on valuable basketball knowledge as a teacher/mentor I’m just not sure he’s capable of being the stable, calm, level-headed strategic leader while stuck on the side line. He’s proven several positive things last year, but that was only one year and it wasn’t a disastrous year. How does he handle conflicts and losing if things such as steady improvement aren’t going according to plan. Also, how does he handle success as a coach? Can he stack success and build on it? I hope he proves me wrong and demonstrates that the new owners were completely justified in their decisive hire, but only time will tell.

  2. If it’s not true that Jason Kidd brutalized his wife, and not true that he drove his car into a telephone pole under the influence, I’d like to get the real story. If those things are pretty much true, then I’d like to get some resolution about whether Jason Kidd has shown any real sorrow and made any real efforts to demonstrate a real change of heart.

    I want to put this in the past if it’s clear that Jason Kidd has sincerely tried to make amends. However, if it’s a matter of just saying that we should move on just because these things are in the past, then I’m not on board. The past doesn’t just go away only because of the passage of time, and ignoring what happened, and hoping it will all just fade away.

    Practically speaking, is Jason Kidd someone we want the kids of Milwaukee getting autographs from and looking up to? Is Kidd the kind of moral authority who can change a guy like Larry Sanders?

    A person who has made mistakes in the past, and has faced them honestly, and has made major efforts to heal the wounds and repair the dameage, and who is working diligently to change his life, can be a good role model, even an inspiration. However, someone who has gotten away with bad stuff and has proceeded with life pretty much unrepentant and unchanged, is, well, disturbing, even scary.

    I don’t know the story of Jason Kidd. I want to believe the best about him, and to get excited about him as a leader of the Bucks. At this point, I can’t do that…. I just don’t know.

    • No offense, but let the past be the past; especially, in regards to several of the things you’re referencing. It doesn’t do much good obsessing over a requirement that Jason Kidd rehash, come clean, and seek forgiveness on things we don’t have a clear understanding of and in all likelihood never will; besides, the fact of the matter is Jason Kidd is the Bucks head coach and we now need to be focused on letting time simply tell whether or not he was/is the right candidate to lead the team. Let us at least give him the opportunity to develop and lead our young Bucks for the next few years before crucifying him; I mean, if we’re going to crucify him let us do so based on the things he does while leading the Bucks and not based solely on the things in his past.

      • No offense taken, and perhaps I’m taking my concerns too far. However, I don’t see how my words could be construed as crucifying anyone. It’s a delicate matter, and I expressed myself as thoughtfully and carefully and as fairly as I could — which does not mean I necessarily succeeded, but that I sincerely tried.

        Actually, I’m very much into the forgiveness/mercy/redemption thing, in part because I am greatly in need of these gifts myself. I don’t want to be too hard on Jason Kidd. I don’t claim to have all of the answers, yet I still have these real concerns.

  3. Based on the title of this article, I was expecting a scoop on a boy band that Bucks staff was starting. Needless to say, I am very disappointed.

    Great writing, though. I guess…

  4. I’ll give them this:

    It’s interesting.

    I’m interested to see how the Owners evolve..will they continue to meddle? Will they hire a President? Will they keep Hammond around? Will they segregate their duties amongst themselves? What role will minority owners play? How will the arena plans shape up the next 12 months? Will they start taking interest in other Milwaukee assets/venues/businesses?

    I’m interested to see how Hammond evolves..will we see a new side of him without the shackles of a small budget-playoff mandate? How will he work with Kidd? How will he work sandwiched between a group of people all hired by the Owners? What will he do with this roster? What style of ball does he envision? How will he meld that with Kidd’s?

    I’m interested to see how Kidd evolves…how is he with X’s and O’s? How open is he with the media? How do his players respond? What culture does he build? How will he help shape B.Knight’s game? How open will his direct communication channels be to Lasry? How will he fit into the community? WIll he stay out of trouble? What sort of assistant coaches will he bring in?

    I’m interested. Far more so than the string of predictable disappointments, half-cooked efforts, failed strategies, botched negotiations and veiled enthusiasm that marked the Kohl-Hammond regime.

  5. So…

    Kidd sends his agent to Prokhorov, asking for a raise and a job higher than Billy King, he does not contact Billy King. Prohorov is offended, to the point that Kidd’s relationship is all but severed.

    Kidd sends his agent to Lasry, who is intrigued and sets up a meeting with himself, Kidd, and Edens. The two do this without informing Hammond or Drew, the man whose job Kidd sought. Their secret meeting took place on draft week; they expected dinner with the coach of the Brooklyn Nets to go unnoticed when New York was flooded with basketball reporters

    In the end, they decide that they’d like to have Kidd as their coach, with possible carte blanche to make the jump over Hammond when he wishes it. This through a process that was a mirror image of the situation that had Prokhorov furious.

    Edens and Lasry either know something we don’t, or Prokhorov does. The difference that is plain is Prokhorov had a year to get to know the man.

    • Jeremy Schmidt

      Well we don’t know it was a dinner. I suspect it wasn’t, as the actual story didn’t come out until Saturday night. And it sounds like Lasry has known Kidd for quite a while, longer than Prokhorov. So maybe he had already heard Kidd’s concerns about Knight in the past and thought they were valid? I have no idea. None of us know exactly.

      The personal relationship is what throws this whole thing a bit. Who knows how long this was really in the works.

      • Prokhorov is a Russian oligarch, which you get to be for exactly as long as Putin desires. Trust me, his feelings are fine. Screwing the Nets front office works for me on every level. Sure they were “done” with Kidd, but he was a huge part of their plans. And yes, diamonds can be mined from the second round, but I believe street FAs can offer the similar low risk / high reward potential. I don’t think we gave up anything valuable that can’t be recovered by dealing a bench player in the future.

        Lasry should have known better about the confidentiality risk, but there was no deal in place before the draft. The intention at that point could very well have been to keep Drew in place…however, once you take a step in the new coach direction, you are committed. He obviously should have told Drew before the Jabari conference. That was a jerk move.

        I don’t like Kidd as a person, though his transgressions are not uncommon (nor acceptable) for professional ath-a-letes, even in Wisconsin (GASP!). He will command the locker room and won’t hesitate to leave punky players in it at game time. The “Face of the Bucks” has never taken the form of a coach. That being said, I have no problem with every post-game interview starting with a question about domestic violence.

        And we don’t need a president.

  6. The meeting is what throws me. Even if Lasry and Edens don’t know New York during draft week, Kidd certainly does. It seems like he wanted the news to get out, perhaps so the Nets’ hand would be forced. Maybe he wanted the appalled uproar. It might be in part his fuel. Maybe we had the next Jordan all along and we just didn’t recognize it.

  7. I wish Lasry would just go out and say “we made a move in a dick way and we’re not sorry about it” and then cut Hammond. This quote says it all “Our view, and it hasn’t changed from the beginning, is all the basketball operations and everything goes through John. And I think in this process we’ve learned we made a mistake.” How hard is it to follow your “view” when it comes to something as simple as the firing/hiring of your head basketball coach? Are you that incompetent? You made a move because YOU felt it was in the best interest of the organization (jury’s out). Then when people asked why Hammond wasn’t involved, you back pedaled. Bill Simmons is right, John Hammond should start preparing for his departure from Milwaukee. They said Larry/John would get a year to show what they can do…Larry is gone, John is next. Just own up to it, get it done, get a new (hopefully better) guy in at GM and the leaf can fully turn over.

  8. Throughout this entire process and its fallout, I keep marveling at the amount of holier-than-thou comments and feedback that kidd and the owners have received. Let me clue you in on something, Lasry and Edens bought this team for half a billion dollars and are throwing another 100 mill at a new arena, they can do anything they want…and more power to them. Poor Larry Drew you say, the guy won 15 games last year, didn’t win 2 in a row, and now will receive a payout worth millions..that sounds awful. With Kidd, everybody and their brother is obsessing about his past. In this day and age, what person doesn’t have a couple of skeletons. Is kidd a ruthless jerk? maybe, but so what? If he wins games and puts butts in seats, bravo.

  9. Thunder from Down Under

    I think the main problem people have with this is the way the hiring of Kidd was handled. If we had hired Jason Kidd as our coach without him having coached before we would probably be rejoicing over what a great appointment it is, to have a coach that was such a great player. But because he’s had a year in the system we question his coaching ability despite the fact he took a team full of fossils, injured players and a has been point guard to the semi finals with a winning record. In fact, once he found his feet after a shaky start, his record from the start of 2014 on is quite impressive. As has already been said only time will tell but I think he’ll have a lot of knowledge to pass on to our players and I think Brandon Knight can benefit a lot from this too which is important. I don’t like how this whole process was handled but I guess you don’t become billionaires without being a little ruthless and stepping on a few people along the way. Altho our owners do seem like nice people. Plus they apologised for not knowing better, I can only take them at face value. In the end when it all comes down to it its a good appointment and what really counts over the next few years is how this team develops not how many wins and losses we have. I am looking forward to the future of this team, for once we seem to have a direction.

  10. On a positive note…at least the owners didn’t fire the coach in the middle of the season and totally blow the team up.

    Oh wait, that could still happen. Never mind.

  11. I don’t like Kidd at all. He’s burned bridges everywhere he’s ever been. He didn’t put in time as an assistant coach to learn the ropes – he got handed a plum job and promptly left it when this year’s never-put-in-time new coaches got more money than he did. There’s nothing to show he’ll be good at developing young talent or (heaven forbid) drafting it.

    Kidd and the new owners acted so poorly that the Nets deliberately leaked news of this move just to embarrass them. They hung Drew (who I didn’t like as coach but deserves the same respect as any employee) and Hammond out to dry. And for what? A guy who will be gone in three years. Hopefully he won’t have trashed the franchise Karl-style by the time he goes.

    Ugh.

    • So what if he does a good job? Id bet he wins 25 games and develops a few key players as the year goes on. Larry Drew was terrible last year with his ever-changing lineups and why the F didnt Henson get playing time with a depleted frontcourt and lack of a rim protector? Oh lets not forget Drews awesome defensive scheme. Hey team remember to collapse and double on anybody driving to the rim, leaving someone wide open to pop a 3. Cuz u know, teams arent shooting many 3s in todays NBA. Good riddance
      !!

      • Let’s not forget that Drew’s crazy lineups were dictated, in part, by the front office. What “I want to win” Drew might have done is not the same as what “I’m showcasing players for trades and/or tanking” Drew did under orders. I don’t think he was ever going to be a value-add coach like Jackson. Pop, etc, but I’m not sure he was a value-subtracting coach (Karl) either.

  12. I just hope Knight gets mentored by Kidd. This whole incident will be worth it if Knight has a good year and we lock him up. A core of Giannis Knight Parker will be a fun brand of basketball casual fans will get behind. May he also notice a double double monster named henson is in need of opportunity.

  13. I give credit to Lasry and Edens for admitting their mistakes. At the same time,even in business, it’s not only what you do but how you go about it. Lasry was a minority owner of the Nets. I don’t know how he could not have known about general process and NYC media.

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Kidd could have acknowledged his history beyond his very vague statement. He didn’t. The way Kidd burns bridges and gets coaches fired has been well documented.

    When Kidd coached the Nets, he had one of his players spill soda on the court to buy for time because the Nets didn’t have any time outs left. The NBA fined him $50,000 for it. This was less than one year ago, and well documented.

    Kidd, on his own website, acknowledges that he is a role model. Does he have the integrity and character to do so? I don’t know.

    Kidd says he want to be a teacher to young players. What kind of role model will he be for his players, a young team, and the youth of Milwaukee? I don’t know. That really troubles me.

    I really feel badly for the PR department.

  14. I actually talked to Lasry the day after the draft and I said to him that it looks like the Bucks have an exciting future and he responded that the present is looking exciting too. So at the point he would have just spoken with Kidd the night before and expected him to take the Bucks coaching job. Based on our short conversation I just can’t him imagine him expecting that kind of backlash about this and the process of it, in response to the people who I have seen saying he knew exactly what he was doing. He truly seemed like a nice and friendly guy who was loving being a new member of the Bucks.