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The best of enemies (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday November 28, 2007 12:47PM; Updated: Wednesday November 28, 2007 3:37PM
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It would be wrong to say that Kidd's ambition to play for a contender puts the Nets in a weak position. Just the opposite: His desire to compete makes him worthy of the $19.7 million he's making this year and the $21.4 million he is owed next season. He knows he could be a highly attractive prize at the February trade deadline for a team hoping to copy the recent moves of Denver and Boston: The Nuggets acquired Allen Iverson and the Celtics landed Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett by surrendering potential talent and appealing contracts in return.

The Cavaliers would be an obvious candidate for Kidd, as LeBron has made no secret of his desire to play at a faster tempo with an upgrade at point guard. After a five-point win at Indiana on Sunday, James said of the Pacers: "I think [coach Jim] O'Brien has definitely put them in a position to win ball games because they run up and down. They have the athletes to do that, and they have the point guard that's going to lead them. I like what I'm seeing.''

Kidd would provide the leadership while pushing the ball. The difficulty for Cleveland would come in assembling a package to acquire him. As intriguing as it may be, the odds of Kidd moving to Cleveland appear slim.

Kidd "would love to'' play into his late 30s while following the example of John Stockton, who retired at 41. When he becomes a free agent at 36, Kidd said he may be willing to consider a lesser role with a contender.

"Maybe as a guy coming off the bench or maybe understanding different situations where I can help a younger point guard, then that's what I would like to do -- if that question presented itself in two years,'' he said. "Once that big [contract] number goes away at 36, there's still some value. I still have some time left on my legs, and the experience, you can never put a dollar amount on that. Hopefully I can continue to grow in that aspect, and at the end of the day, there will be somewhere I can go to win a championship.''

While Kidd maintained that he won't involve himself in publicly asking for a trade, he had no problem in spelling out his admiration for LeBron. Last summer in Las Vegas, Kidd praised James' decision to pass to Donyell Marshall for a potential game-ahead three-pointer in the closing seconds of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in Detroit.

"The true story is in Vegas, when I first saw him, we had the practice and the first thing I said to him was, 'You did the right thing,' " Kidd said. "I said, 'It wasn't like you guys were getting killed. You felt that you had a chance to beat them.' He went for the win. If [Marshall] makes that shot, then everybody says, 'How could that kid find that guy in the corner?' "

Kidd told James, "But the big thing is you didn't let that shot take you to a low. From there you make the shot in Game 3 and then you write the history books by going four [victories] in a row. You never backed off, you kept coming, you took criticism and you just went out there and were you. Because most players could just go sideways and would never be seen again.''

They've become friendly enough that Kidd occasionally provides advice. "When he was not shooting free throws well, I said, 'Hey! Relax. Relax. I've seen you shoot free throws. Go back to whatever you were doing, but don't press. Relax and be you,' " Kidd said.

His rivalry -- if that's the right term -- is renewing Kidd's ambition. "People in New Jersey will say, 'Why is he helping a rival?' But its not that I'm helping him. I'm using him at the same time,'' Kidd said. "As much as I want to beat Cleveland, I want his best game as much as he wants my best game. And then in the summer it's time to talk about who got who.''

Kidd's triple-double Tuesday was the 91st of his career. Only five NBA teams -- the Kings, Lakers, Celtics, 76ers and Nets -- have accumulated more triple-doubles over their franchise histories than Kidd has earned as an individual player.

"I'm not worried about the teams,'' Kidd said. "I'm just worried about that kid in Cleveland, because he has too much time, he has a lot of time left on his clock.

"You look back at [rivals] Larry Bird and Dr. J, or Magic and Larry -- and I'm not putting me in that category,'' Kidd said. "But you're waking up, and you read the newspaper, and you see LeBron had a triple-double. Now I've got to get excited because he's entering my area. So, OK, I guess I'm not playing hard enough, I've got to start stepping it up. And you text each other in that fun way, and before you know it he's filling up a stat sheet and that's taking his game to a higher level. And that's just by texting and e-mailing each other.''

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