J.R. Smith is sure Jason Kidd is going to get it done as the Nets' coach.
Smith, the enigmatic Knicks guard, played with him last season during Kidd's one-year stop in midtown and even credits Kidd for helping to improve his game. He's confident that Kidd, who has had a rough week after "reassigning'' Lawrence Frank and getting fined $50,000 for his spilled soda trick, will turn things around.
"Criticism is going to come,'' Smith said before the Knicks' 113-83 victory over the Nets. "He's a first-year coach and he's a great basketball mind. Just unfortunately, he's going through it early. Some coaches have success early, some struggle early. He just happens to be struggling right now.
"I think he's the best fit for that job and he knows how to get out of it. He's got a great core of vets, so he'll be fine.''
Carmelo Anthony has said the Knicks miss Kidd's presence and leadership. But that got put aside Thursday night, with Anthony hoping to send Kidd home with another loss on his resume. And that's what happened.
Catching a few glimpses of Kidd on the sideline was a little weird, though.
"Yeah, yeah,'' Anthony said. "I've seen him on TV and seen him on film. But just to see him out here on the opposite side of us, knowing how much fun we had with him last year, how much we learned from everybody, how much we bonded last year . . . So it'll be different. But tonight, it's no friends tonight.''
Even with all of the Nets' struggles and not seeing an early return on the investment of his $102-million payroll, Mikhail Prokhorov apparently isn't going to do anything hasty.
Unlike last season, when the Nets went 3-10 in December after an 11-4 start and Prokhorov gave the green light to fire Avery Johnson, the billionaire owner seems to believe the Nets as presently constructed eventually will get it going.
"We're only a month into the season!'' Prokhorov wrote in an email to The New York Times. "Give it a little time. And have a little faith.''