EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - As a rookie, he played hooky.
When Jason Kidd was drafted by the Mavericks and first entered the league in 1994, competing in the NBA's summer league wasn't at the top of his list. And it's not as though there was no such thing as the summer league back then. "Nah, it existed," Kidd said Saturday, "but I skipped it."
Although Kidd's a rookie again in a sense, he won't be able to say the same thing this time around. Kidd will be in the house Sunday, roaming courtside as a coach for the first time when the Nets' summer league team tips off against the Pistons on the Amway Center practice court in Orlando, Fla. It's his first true opportunity to begin honing his coaching skills, diving headfirst into a schedule that's going to consume him for the next six days.
Before jumping into the deep end, which will occur when the squad that general manager Billy King assembled arrives for training camp in October, Kidd needs a few swim lessons in a sense. That's why he's taking the unusual step of being on the bench for summer league action this week, something most coaches don't do.
"This is a process, a learning process," Kidd said. "So for the first game, just like in practice, I'm going to look and see, put guys in a position to be successful offensively and defensively, and correct if guys do something wrong and applaud when they do something right."
These next few days should give Kidd a chance to work on his strategy. He'll have to get a sense of substitution patterns. Know when to call timeouts. Work the referees for calls.
There's also the matter of taking the dry erase board and drawing up plays, an aspect of the job that Kidd suggests he'll do often, though he'll also solicit input from the assistants on his staff.
"I'm excited about the opportunity of diagraming plays," Kidd said. "We've been doing it here in practice, so we'll have fun with it. My job is, again, to hopefully call the right play at the right time to put guys in the right position to score. Make or miss, for this week, I'm looking to see what works and what doesn't work."
That way, Kidd can have a strategical foundation truly established by the time the Nets get ready for camp. It'll also give him more fodder to use as he continues to pick the brains of other coaches, all so he can incorporate some of their ideas and tendencies into his own style.
"I've talked to Mark Jackson, a lot of these different coaches," Kidd said, "They have told me to be myself and to be able to learn and to be able to listen. So I'm excited about that."
Notes & quotes: The Nets reached agreement on a one-year deal with point guard Shaun Livingston, according to a source. Livingston, 27, played for the Cavaliers this past season and is expected to compete with second-year man Tyshawn Taylor for the backup spot behind Deron Williams.