Sprung: Amid coaching chaos, Nets only imagine what could have been with Shaw

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KiddJason Kidd and Brian Shaw were the two finalists for the Brooklyn Nets coaching position during the summer.

While Kidd won out and was hired by the Nets, Shaw ended up getting his first head job in Denver with the Nuggets. So far, it sure seems like Shaw got the better end of that deal.

While Brooklyn languishes near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Denver won its seventh straight game Tuesday, efficiently eviscerating the Nets, 111-87, on a night where turmoil and turbulence raged in the home locker room.

Before the game, Kidd announced that top assistant Lawrence Frank, who was reportedly at odds with Kidd, was demoted and reassigned to “doing daily reports.”

Frank, whom Kidd brought in to ease his immediate transition from player to head coach, was basically fired and exiled just 17 games into a reported six-year contract that pays him over $1 million annually.

Asked if there was a sort of rift between the two, Kidd said “it’s just different philosophies and that’s it. This is my decision. This is what I had to do. This is about basketball.”

It was also about basketball in early June, when the Nets hired Kidd over Shaw and others after P.J. Carlesimo – himself an interim after Brooklyn fired Avery Johnson last December – was let go after failing to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Before Tuesday’s game, Shaw said he thought he had a pretty good chance to land the Nets job and that he was going to be the last guy to interview for the position.

“I knew Jason got interviewed a few days before me. And actually when I did interview, (Nets GM) Billy King told me that he was going to hire Jason or myself,” Shaw said.

The two had a history together outside the NBA. Shaw and Kidd both grew up in the Bay Area. Shaw is seven years older, but they played with and against each other in the summer leagues when they were younger.

Brian Shaw Phil Jackson

Both were NBA point guards who collected championship rings during long careers. The biggest difference is coaching experience. Shaw was an assistant under Phil Jackson and Mike Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2005-11 and spent the last two seasons under Frank Vogel with the Indiana Pacers. Kidd was hired as coach of the Nets just 10 days after retiring as a player.

After Indiana fell in the conference finals, the interview process intensified, and Shaw knew he wanted that Nets job.

“I made no secret of it,” he said. “When I flew cross-country and I got off the plane and got back to my hotel and turned on the TV, I saw that it said they were already in negotiation with Jason to be the coach, so that threw me off a little bit.”

Even though it was a foregone conclusion that Kidd was getting the job, Shaw “still went through with the interview” even though he knew he probably wasn’t going to be hired. Brooklyn hired Kidd on June 12, and Shaw landed the Nuggets job on June 25.

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  1. Shaw never worked under Mike Brown.

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