SAN ANTONIO - Jason Kidd is officially back with the Nets.
Kidd was named the 18th coach in franchise history Wednesday night, ending the Nets' five-week search to replace P.J. Carlesimo. The future Hall of Fame point guard, who played for the Nets from 2001-07 and led them to consecutive appearances in the Finals in 2002 and 2003, will be formally introduced at a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Barclays Center.
It's a remarkably rapid ascension for Kidd, who just retired last week after 19 seasons in the NBA. The Nets tabbed Kidd, 40, despite his absence of coaching experience, opting to go with him over Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw, who interviewed Wednesday.
Kidd met with general manager Billy King Monday and impressed him enough that he emerged as the front-runner.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to be named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and it's a role I have been studying for over the course of my playing days," Kidd said in a statement. "Championship teams are built on being prepared, playing unselfishly and being held accountable, and that's how I expect to coach this basketball team.
"I am truly excited about this next phase of my basketball career."
Early on in the process, Shaw was considered to be the front-runner. He had a lengthy interview with King, and although it reportedly went well, it wasn't enough to keep the Nets from turning to the guy who almost single-handedly changed the franchise's losing culture when he arrived in New Jersey in 2001.
"On behalf of the Nets organization, I am very pleased to welcome Jason Kidd as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets," King said. "Jason is a proven winner and leader with an incredible wealth of basketball knowledge and experience. This will be a natural transition for him to move into the role of head coach, as he embodies the tough, smart and team-first mentality that we are trying to establish in Brooklyn."
To help offset the lack of coaching experience, Kidd is expected to assemble a staff with veteran assistant coaches, something that many think is necessary in this sudden transition from player to coach.
The Nets had been searching for a replacement since King cut Carlesimo loose May 5, the day after the Bulls ended their season with a Game 7 first-round playoff victory in Brooklyn. Even when he took over on an interim basis for Avery Johnson on Dec. 27, when Johnson was ousted weeks after winning the league's Eastern Conference coach of the month award in November, Carlesimo was never seen as the long-term solution.
King initially reached out to Phil Jackson to see if the man with 11 championship rings wanted to return to coaching. Although Jackson liked the Nets' roster, he told them his coaching days were over.
So King started turning his attention to other candidates, notably Shaw, when Kidd fully emerged into the picture and put himself squarely into the equation. Kidd and Shaw were the only candidates King interviewed. Lionel Hollins, who was let go by the Grizzlies, and George Karl, who was fired by the Nuggets, never received much consideration.
There's going to be pressure on Kidd to win sooner than later. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has stated his belief that the Nets will capture an NBA championship by 2015. Apparently Prokhorov thinks the Nets got the man to make that a reality.
Kidd played in 506 games in six-plus seasons with the Nets and averaged 14.6 points, 9.1 assists and 7.2 assists per game. He guided the Nets to six straight playoff appearances, including two Eastern Conference championships and four Atlantic Division titles.
"Jason Kidd has a long and legendary history with the Nets and with the City of New York," Prokhorov said. "He has the fire in the belly we need, and has achieved as a player everything the Brooklyn Nets are striving to achieve. We believe he will lead us there. Welcome home, Jason."