By Stephen Haynes
---- — NEW YORK — Jason Kidd thinks Jason Collins certainly has a place in the NBA and expects his friend to sign with a team before the season. But it won’t be the Nets.
“He wants to play still, but we have 15 spots already filled,” the new Nets coach said yesterday.
Collins in April became the first active male athlete from one of the four major professional sports to announce his homosexuality. Kidd was among several athletes who voiced their support and, in June, the Nets reportedly had interest in signing Collins, a free agent center.
Kidd said that possibility was something the organization “talked about over the summer,” but won’t likely pursue now.
“His knowledge as a veteran … can help a young team,” Kidd said of the Collins, a Nets teammate for seven years. “He’ll find a job at some point.”
Kidd found a job almost immediately after announcing his retirement, becoming the Nets coach. He inherited a team that went 49-33 last season and raised expectations this summer after acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry in a blockbuster trade with the Celtics.
Raymond Felton, Kidd’s backcourt mate with the Knicks last season, told NBA.com last week “there’s not too much coaching” Kidd will have to do with Brooklyn’s star-laden roster. And the future Hall of Famer didn’t dismiss those comments.
“For me, it’s to make sure I don’t get in the way,” said Kidd, who spoke at the Nets team store in Coney Island. “At the same time, I have to help guys out and always share the information that I’ve gained as a player.”
The sharing likely will begin with point guard Deron Williams, whom Kidd said he will “push.” Williams, signed to a $98-million contract, has had four seasons in which he averaged better than 10 assists per game, but it has dropped to 8.1 his last two years with the Nets. Kidd insisted Williams can regain his form.
One of Kidd’s planned remedies was to make the Nets an up-tempo offense and have Williams “make things happen without having to set the ball up.” But the acquisition of Garnett, 37, and Pierce, 36, has altered that thinking somewhat.
“It’s a fine line of saying, ‘We’re gonna be a running team,’ when some of our key pieces are over 30,” Kidd said. “But that’s the challenge of being a coach.”