NEW YORK -- Two years later, Jason Kidd’s move from Brooklyn to Milwaukee looks even better.
Coach Kidd’s young Bucks shined Monday night, securing their first victory of the season, 103-96, over the winless Nets in front of just 12,576 at Barclays Center.
The crowd greeted Kidd with a mix of boos and cheers when he was introduced before the game.
Michael Carter-Williams, the unpolished 24-year-old point guard whom Kidd is trying to mold into a more consistent performer, came through with the play of the game, running down the court and picking Bojan Bogdanovic’s pocket from behind with 1:30 remaining and the score knotted at 96.
Khris Middleton, the 24-year-old sharpshooter whom the Bucks just locked up with a five-year, $70 million contract, drained a jumper on the other end, igniting a 7-0 game-ending run.
“That was a championship play,” Kidd said of MCW’s hustle steal. “We had guys getting on the floor. You can see guys are getting better, understanding the process, and it’s going to take some time.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 20-year-old face of the franchise with the freakish wingspan, had 21 points and eight rebounds, while Greg Monroe, the 25-year-old marquee free-agent acquisition who was never supposed to end up in a small market such as Milwaukee, added 23 points and 13 rebounds of his own.
Oh, and Jabari Parker, the 20-year-old No. 2 overall pick from 2014 who essentially missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee, is set to make his long-awaited return Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Yes, the Bucks may take their lumps early. Yes, they’re going to struggle to shoot from the outside. And yes, they’re going to have to figure things out on the defensive end.
But there is an absolute embarrassment of riches in Milwaukee, and the same simply cannot be said for the Nets, who currently are trying to make it through a “bridge year” with no control over their own first-round draft pick until 2019.
Kidd always saw all the angles as a player, putting himself in the best position to have success -- even if he angered some people in the process.
Now, the future Hall of Fame visionary is doing the same as a coach. Clearly, he saw the future, which looks bright in Milwaukee and bleak in Brooklyn.
He certainly learned patience during his first season as a coach with the Nets in 2013-14.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were out of sorts early, Brook Lopez suffered a season-ending injury and a 10-21 start ensued. Kidd believed he was going to be fired by general manager Billy King, something King repeatedly has denied.
Nevertheless, backed by Russian ownership, Kidd kept his job and the team turned things around after the New Year, going small and riding a rejuvenated Pierce, Garnett, Joe Johnson and Shaun Livingston to the second round of the playoffs despite not having Deron Williams 100 percent healthy for one game all season.
“We started off slow here with a lot of high expectations and some people might have forgotten that there are 82 games to be played and the season isn’t won or lost in November or December,” Kidd said before Monday’s game. “We found our way into the playoffs and won a big Game 7 [in Toronto].”
Kidd’s only season in Brooklyn, he said, “felt like it was five years in one.”
Over the summer following the 2013-14 campaign, Kidd sought additional control over player personnel in addition to his coaching duties and was rebuffed. The Nets traded him to the Bucks for two second-round picks.
He hasn’t looked back since, taking what he learned in Brooklyn and applying it in Milwaukee.
“Coaching is hard no matter what -- whether you’re coaching veterans or young guys,” Kidd said. “Being able to use certain vocabulary with the older guys -- they get it and they can go out and execute it. Sometimes with the younger guys, you have to show them on video or walk through it and then have them do it. So you might have to spend a little more time teaching, but that’s fun. That’s why I like being in Milwaukee, to help put these young guys in a position to have success.”
The Nets have some young guys, too. Lopez is a force, Bogdanovic looks more confident and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has the potential to be a special player one day. But not having a first rounder in 2016 or 2018 and having to swap firsts in 2017 makes regaining playoff contender status that much harder.
The Nets are stuck in the middle -- and their only hope is that they can land someone great in free agency, which would be a first for the franchise. Remember, the biggest outside free agent the team has ever signed is Travis Outlaw (five years, $35 million).
Kidd somehow helped persuade Monroe to spurn New York and Los Angeles to ink a three-year, $50 million max deal with the Bucks.
That sure seems like a surprise. But with Jason Kidd, as fans in New Jersey know, anything is possible.
He took a 26-win Nets team to back-to-back NBA finals as a player. Now, he’s looking to take his young Bucks, who went from a 15-win team in 2013-14 to a playoff team last season, to even greater heights.
And he certainly isn’t wondering what could have been in Brooklyn. Because right now, there doesn’t seem to be much.
“For me, the Nets will always be a special place because I played there, and a lot of good things have happened here,” Kidd said. “So it’s always good to see the Nets.”