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NBA AM: Was It Really Kidd’s Fault In Brooklyn?

The Milwaukee Bucks are respectable, while the Brooklyn Nets remain dysfunctional – was Jason Kidd really to blame?… Can the LA Lakers trade their way out of this mess?… Jeff Green clears the air about the trade rumors.

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Maybe It Was Brooklyn?:  While it is still very early in the season, there is something that sort of jumps out at you in the NBA standings. The Milwaukee Bucks are doing pretty well for themselves and the Brooklyn Nets are still under achievers.

Much was made about Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, especially as things came unglued at the end in Brooklyn. From listening to the Bucks players and staff and watching how things are imploding in Brooklyn, you have to wonder: Did Kidd bear the brunt of the problem unfairly?

Many versions of the Kidd story have been told, but the one that seems most likely is that Kidd, like most around the NBA, had heard that the Nets were thinking about firing him after a dreadful start last season. Can you really blame the guy for going into self-preservation mode when his front office allegedly turned on him?

In talking with several of the Bucks players last week, they all sort of had the same story. Kidd was challenging them in practice. He was forcing them into a defense-first mind set, and the guards were really embracing how much he was helping them prepare and execute. Kidd has a solid coaching staff and their young guys are really taking to his process.

There wasn’t a typical rolling of the eyes you get when you ask some guys about their coach. There wasn’t the typical well-rehearsed line guys manufacture to gloss over their coach. There was a genuine, lean-into-the-question answer.

One veteran Bucks player admitted that he was curious about Kidd as a coach and reached out to players on last year’s Nets team, and said he was told that Kidd started out rocky but got better as the season progressed. There was no animosity about him, which was reassuring to this particular player.

The Bucks may not stay in the .500 club, they have lost two straight, but the one thing that is clear is Kidd might be a better coach than he’s given credit for, and that a lot of the Brooklyn mess might not have been entirely his fault.

The Bucks are pretty happy with how the situation turned out; we’ll see if that changes as the season rolls on.

»In Related: Who Are The Top NBA Draft Prospects For The 2015 NBA Draft?

Get Them When You Can Get Them?:  As The LA Lakers continue to struggle, a common question asked by Laker fans is, when will the team make a trade to right the ship?

Now for the non-Lakers fans, don’t snicker, this is a fan base that is used to being able to trade their way out of problems or gloss over mistakes with their checkbook and that might be how this season plays out too.

Before we get too far, keep in mind a lot of things have changed in the NBA since the lockout in 2011.

The Lakers as a franchise used to carry one of the largest payrolls in the NBA, which allowed them to trade into large unattractive contracts, as it does take contract money to trade for contract money.

The Lakers also don’t have very many attractive contracts to trade, at least not yet any way. Most of the deals the Lakers signed this summer do not become trade eligible until at least December 15.

Laker big man Jordan Hill is not trade eligible until January 15, and because of the structure of his contract has the ability to veto a trade. Hill is owed $9 million this year and has a team option worth $9 million for next season. If traded, he would have to agree to the deal.

Swingman Nick Young, who might be the most tradable player, cannot be traded until December 15, but also has three fully guaranteed years on his contract. Young is owed $4.99 million this year, $5.21 million next year and 5.443 million in 2016-2017. Young holds a player option worth $5.66 million for the 2017-18 season.

Laker forward Carlos Boozer cannot be traded at all, as he was an amnesty claim.

Rookie Julius Randle has a broken leg, which make his trade value extremely low.

Laker bright spot Ed Davis cannot be moved until December 15, but is making just $915,000 this season, which won’t return much even when he can be traded, unless he is paired with other contracts.

The Lakers have already traded their own draft pick to Phoenix as part of the Steve Nash deal. The pick is top five protected, so there is a chance the Lakers can keep it, but as a trade tool that asset is off the table. They do possess the Houston Rockets’ first round pick, which is lottery protected for taking on the contract of guard Jeremy Lin. That pick is a tradable asset, but given how the Rockets are playing, it does not look like a very attractive draft pick, likely something in the mid-to-low twenties.

The Lakers do have the expiring contract of guard Nash, which is worth $9.7 million, along with Lin’s ending deal, which is worth $8.3 million against the cap.

Nash is not expected to play again, making him only valuable as a cap clearing tool, while Lin, who could contribute to a team, has an awkwardly structured contract. To land him in Houston back in 2012, the Rockets used a salary cap concept called a “poison pill”, where they back loaded the cash payment of Lin’s contract. The salary cap value of the deal was spread out evenly over the three-years of the deal, but the actual cash paid was $5 million in year one, $5.5 million in year two and roughly $15 million this season.

While Lin only counts as $8.3 million against the salary cap, the debt owed to him is much higher, making his contract unattractive in a trade. Most teams look for reverse scenarios where the cap value is higher than the actual cash owed.

Even at the trade deadline in February, Lin’s cash owed will be closer to $5 million, which is a ton for the final 30 percent of the season. Most teams, especially smaller market or cost conscious teams would steer clear of that kind of structure without receiving some kind of inducement, like a draft pick or young talent.

So is a trade the answer for the Lakers? It does not seem like they have much to offer. The days of teams valuing ending contracts has passed unless you are taking back an ugly contract and frankly the last think the Lakers need is another ugly contract.

While you never say never, the Lakers do have what amounts to $18 million in tradable salary between Nash and Lin. The odds that the Lakers are getting their coveted would-be free agent for just that bundle of assets are pretty slim. However, in the NBA you are always open for business and if you can get the player, you get the player.

»In Related: Who Still Has Cap Salary Space? How About Cap Exceptions?

Green Sets The Record Straight:  After some reports surfaced suggesting that Boston forward Jeff Green might be easier to trade than Rajon Rondo, Green took issue with that concept saying that he hasn’t asked for a trade and wants to remain in Boston.

“I just want to clear the air about some B.S. rumor that came out,” Green said to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. “I don’t know if the person who made this article is in this here, but the rumor about me wanting to get traded is definitely false. I said that I was frustrated with losing, not frustrated with the team. So if the words didn’t come from my mouth, I’d appreciate if you do not write a dumb— article like that.”

Green has vented a few times about the losing that the Celtics are enduring, and some have translated that to mean he is seeking a trade, and while its remains very possible that Green is traded, for his part he is trying to make it clear that he’d like to stay.

“I want to stay here,” Green said. “I love this team. I love being here.

“If I didn’t [want to be here], I wouldn’t have signed [his most recent] contract to come back here. I’m happy where I’m at, happy with the coach, management, front office, everybody. I haven’t been happy like this in years. It’s a good place for me.

While Green went on the offensive to try and quell the notion of a trade, there is no doubting that Green, forward Brandon Bass and guard Rajon Rondo are viewed as players that are not part of the long-term plan in Boston and could be had at some point this season in trade if the price were right.

Green is currently the Celtics’ leading scorer at 18.4 points game despite shooting 43.3 percent from the field and just 27.3 percent from the three-point line.

The Celtics are currently 4-8 on the season and have lost seven of their last ten games.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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