Thursday night, while Frank was off somewhere merrily writing up his game report, Garnett made it clear that the firing negatively impacted the Nets.
"We have a new system," Garnett said. "We're changing things on the fly. Jason's putting in a lot of new stuff since Lawrence left."
New stuff that isn't working any better than the old stuff. Two nights after Timofey Mozgov collected 17 points and 20 rebounds in 31 minutes against his team, and a few hours after he claimed the Nets were "closer than maybe the public thinks," Kidd watched the Knicks snap their nine-game losing streak by sinking 16 of 27 3s while making the Barclays Center sound an awful lot like Madison Square Garden.
No, the Nets didn't have Deron Williams or Pierce in a starting five advertised in the preseason as the league's best, but Pierce has been awful, anyway, and the Knicks were going without their second-best player, Tyson Chandler.
"We feel we have enough talent to win," Kidd conceded, "but we're coming up short." The losing coach maintained he wouldn't use injuries as an excuse, but he did cite a lack of health as "one of those issues" holding back the Nets. Asked how he'd evaluate his own performance as a coach, Kidd said, "I think you get evaluated by being whole. It starts there. And then once that occurs, then you're evaluated."
But Kidd's been around long enough to understand that almost every team deals with significant injuries, that he has enough active talent to avoid getting blown out at home, and that Williams hasn't exactly been a lights-out franchise player since arriving as a Net.
So a lot of this comes down to coaching, to motivating, to finding ways to elevate a number of players in a funk. When the Nets tried but failed to hire Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers, when they were left with a bunch of George Karls and Lionel Hollinses and Brian Shaws to choose from, I thought Kidd made a lot of sense.
I thought that Kidd would bring instant credibility to the bench, and would see the game the way he saw it as a player -- two frames ahead of everyone else. But that was before he embarrassed himself by intentionally spilling soda onto the court against the Lakers, and before he embarrassed the franchise by asking for Frank's playbook. That was before Shaw, coach of the 11-7 Nuggets, embarrassed Kidd and the Nets on Tuesday night.
"There's a lot of moving parts here," Garnett said.
They're all moving in the wrong direction. That's why Garnett, proud Celtic, has been wearing the expression of a man kicking himself for letting Pierce talk him into this. That's why Kidd was booed in his own building during pregame introductions.
Way back when, Kidd took a 26-win New Jersey Nets team to two consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. So yes, if he could do that as a player, it's possible he could turn it around this year as a coach.
Only in the here and now, that looks like a bigger longshot than the $180 million Nets winning the East. Carmelo Anthony called the Knicks "the laughingstock of the league" the other day, but after four quarters of the city game Thursday night, the joke was most definitely on Jason Kidd.