EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Uncertainty awaits.
It's an unusual position for Nets coach Jason Kidd, and should make the next eight months all the more intriguing. Kidd has become one of the select few to make the direct leap from NBA player to NBA head coach. Let's just say it's been a while since people weren't quite sure what to expect from a guy who at times made the game seem so easy.
"Uh, seventh grade?" Kidd said recently, cracking a smile. "No, I'm just kidding. No, basketball is an unknown thing. You can try to control it, you can try to perfect it, but you have your good and bad days. For me, coaching, I'm excited."
As the Nets' preseason tips off with a five-day training camp Tuesday at Duke University, all eyes will be on Kidd. An offseason buoyed by a blockbuster trade that landed Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, as well as the free-agent signing of Andrei Kirilenko, has the fan base dreaming big and puts the spotlight squarely on Kidd to win.
Kidd has the task of bringing them all together, finding ways to feature each player's strengths, while managing a host of egos. But with the new veteran additions, paired with that empty feeling the returnees should have after the way things crashed in their first-round playoff loss to the Bulls, Kidd believes there won't be any selfishness.
"The nice thing about this opportunity with this team is guys being able to sacrifice," Kidd said, "and that's another thing with these guys. Maybe sacrifice a shot or two. Maybe even some of the younger guys will say, 'Yeah, I don't mind not playing the fourth quarter,' and that's sacrifice. It's less minutes and less shots and it gets us a win."
Still, there will be times when things aren't all that peachy, and that's when Kidd's abilities as a coach will be tested. But Kidd embraces the challenges on the horizon .
"I've always been nervous before every game," Kidd said. "If you ask any trainer, I've always taken Pepto just to settle my nerves. Because basketball's always been something you can never control. It's something that you just don't know how it's going to turn out. But once the ball is up in the air, your nerves tend to go away and you just respond and react.
"I am nervous. But the nice thing is we do have some talented players who know how to play, who want to be coaches, and it's exciting. It's an exciting nervousness. I'm very excited about this opportunity."