An interesting nugget surfaced after the Bucks announced they had fired Jason Kidd on Monday.
Kidd hadn’t been officially notified when the news leaked, and that Giannis Antetokounmpo was apparently “devastated,” according to sources with ESPN.
And, 15 minutes before the firing, Antetokounmpo called Kidd and asked if he should try and save the hall of famer’s job.
“(Antetokounmpo) called me and said, ‘Coach, this isn’t right what they’re about to do, but [they] are gonna let you go,'” Kidd told ESPN.
Kidd says Antetokounmpo replied, “‘What can I do? I’ll call the owners, I’ll call my agent.”
Kidd said he told him, “There’s nothing you can do. All you can do is tell the truth. That’s it.”
Kidd says Antetokounmpo replied, "'What can I do? I'll call the owners, I'll call my agent."
Kidd said he told him, "There's nothing you can do. All you can do is tell the truth. That's it."
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 23, 2018
Kidd needed to be fired. But it’s not a great sign when Antetokounmpo, the backbone of the franchise and Top 5 player in the NBA, isn’t on board with the firing or even in the know.
Then again, late into Kidd’s first year with the Bucks, Antetokounmpo didn’t have a clue who his coach was historically, as noted in Sports Illustrated.
The first time Kidd benched him (April, 2015), Antetokounmpo was irate.
“I was like, ‘Let’s see what this guy did in his career, anyway,’” Antetokounmpo recounts, and called up Kidd’s bio on his phone. “I saw Rookie of the Year, NBA championship, USA Olympic gold medal, second in assists, fifth in made threes, blah, blah, blah. I was like, ‘Jesus freaking Christ, how can I compete with that? I better zip it.’”
So, on one hand, the Bucks might want to think about running some stuff by Antetokounmpo before making major decisions if they want him to stick around. On the other hand, the 23-year-old might have no clue what a good coach is.
His only NBA coaches have been Kidd and Larry Drew, who went 15-67 Antetokounmpo’s rookie year, before the whole Drew-fired, Kidd-hired Fiasco.
If you remember, the new Bucks’ owners sent two second-round picks to the Nets for Kidd but hadn’t fired Drew. Or even told Drew his job was in jeopardy. For a little while, the Bucks had two head coaches.
It was weird. And Antetokounmpo has endured it all. Luckily he’s signed through 2020-21, so maybe this all blows over by then. Or he pulls a Kyrie Irving.
During the Milwaukee 109-105 win over the Suns on Monday, just hours after the firing, first-year GM Jon Horst announced on the Fox broadcast his Bucks would keep interim coach Joe Prunty on for the rest of the season. So much for keeping the options open.
Antetokounmpo sat out injured, again, for the game. Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdan picked up the slack with 35 and 32 points, respectively.
Middleton was also a little saddened by the news on Kidd.
“It’s tough for me,” Middleton said. “He took my game to another level. He took this team to a whole other level. Today was a tough day.”
Bucks veteran point guard Jason Terry, who also played with Kidd, had this to say: “Once they made the decision, which was a tough one, that they did, they put the onus on the players. We understand that it’s going to take us as a group collectively.” — veteran Bucks G Jason Terry, who also played with Kidd in the NBA.
To read more about the Bucks coaching move, check out WKTY morning host Dave Carney’s blog here.
-Rick Solem. Email RICK@580WKTY.com