Lawrence Frank endured an unceremonious exit the last time he retained employment with the Nets franchise. This time, his true talents are on display.
After a bold move in hiring Jason Kidd as the next head coach, management wisely hedged their bets. They brought in a capable coach to assist their rookie one. This time Frank has the talent to back him up.
Frank returns to the organization as the NBA’s highest paid assistant coach, and what many believe is one of the most lucrative assistant contracts in the league’s history.
The Nets offered Frank a four-year deal worth more than $1 million per season. In 2012-13, Mike Malone garnered the league’s top bill at $750,000 with the Golden State Warriors.
That’s quite a statement from the Nets, considering Frank left the team with his tail between his legs after starting the 2009-10 season an historically bad 0-16.
The contract at the very least shows the Nets hung Frank out to dry in his last stint with the team. The Detroit Pistons did him no more favors, either.
The Nets went into 2009 with a team featuring Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, and not much else. Rafer Alston, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jarvis Hayes, Bobby Simmons, and Yi Jianlian all played prominent roles. None of the second group remain in the league.
The Nets subsequently relieved Frank after 16 games, with the emphasis on “relieved.”
While Kidd is more than capable of running a huddle, he’s never coached at any level. No doubt Kidd will look to Frank when the going gets tough this season in Brooklyn.
Kidd relied on Frank to do most of the dirty work in the team’s first practice.
“Coach Frank did a lot… setting us up and running a lot of drills and stuff with us,” guard Tyshawn Taylor said. “(Coach Kidd) kind of sat back and watched and was throwing his points in there when he could like a point guard would.”
Kidd will likely face his greatest challenge in managing minutes for a roster comprised with plenty of age.
Although Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez make for one of the best teams in the league, their effective ages are through the roof. Lopez underwent another surgery on his right foot to repair an inserted screw. That’s three surgeries for those keeping track.
Johnson battled plantar fasciitis and Williams has not been healthy since the day he landed in Newark.
The Boston newcomers will make for Kidd’s greatest challenge. Two Hall of Famers jettisoned because of their age and injury potentials. They need to play under thirty minutes a night.
This is where Frank comes into play.
“He’s a guy I can lean on, ask him any question, he pretty much has all the answers,” Kidd told reporters Wednesday. “I’m happy he’s on board. He’s been a head coach in this league, he’s been an assistant, so he understands what it takes to be successful. I’m very lucky to have a special guy like that.”
Kidd will fight the urge to win meaningless games in December to prove that he can coach, but the real victory is keeping his horses healthy for the playoffs. He can look no further than Mike Woodson with the New York Knicks.
Woodson ran Kidd into the ground last season after a resurgent start to the season.
Come playoff time, Kidd had nothing left and neither did the Knicks.
Kidd has a chip on his shoulder, though. The Nets took a gamble on him and he wants to reward the risk with tangible results.
Frank has help too. The Nets retained Doug Overton and brought in assistants Roy Rogers and Eric Hughes.
Frank needs to remind him 2014 is a marathon and not a sprint. Kidd can lean on personal experience.