Sizing up the suitors (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday January 30, 2008 12:33AM; Updated: Wednesday January 30, 2008 10:17AM
Suitor #2: Nuggets
The principals: Nene ($8.8 million), Linas Kleiza ($1 million), J.R. Smith ($2.1 million)
The skinny: This was the deal. The Nets would get a prototypical young power forward in Nene, who would pair with Jefferson to form the new core of the franchise for the next five years. The Nuggets? Well, they would be downright scary. Kidd's presence would allow Allen Iverson to defend point guards, make Carmelo Anthony a 30-point scorer and reinvigorate Kenyon Martin. A Martin-Kidd-Anthony fast break? The Nuggets would lead the league in free throw attempts. Denver would instantly become a favorite in the West, while New Jersey would have a solid building block for its future. Nene's battle with testicular cancer, however, probably quashes this deal.
Odds of a deal: 35-1
Suitor #3: Hawks
The principals: Josh Smith ($2.2 million), Tyronn Lue ($3.5 million), Shelden Williams ($3.1 million)
The skinny: How long has Atlanta been needing a point guard? Well, since Mookie Blaylock left in 1999. Kidd would instantly accelerate the development of the Hawks' younger players, who have already begun to jell this season. Atlanta could put together a package around the talented Smith, who is having a career year in his fourth season. The Hawks wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger because a) Smith is a restricted free agent and already rejected a five-year, $45 million offer in training camp and b) as I reported last week in Sports Illustrated, the relationship between Smith and Mike Woodson has deteriorated to the point that he probably wouldn't re-sign if Woodson remains as coach.
Odds of a deal: 45-1
Suitor #4: Magic
The principals: Jameer Nelson ($1.2 million), Hedo Turkoglu ($6.4 million)
The Skinny: The Magic have been impressive at times during the season (witness their 17-10 road record) but appear to be a piece or two away from being real title contenders. Kidd would be that piece. Turkoglu has been spectacular, averaging 19.3 points 6.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists, but GM Otis Smith would be crazy not to include him in a deal for Kidd. Think about it: A Kidd-Rashard Lewis-Dwight Howard troika? That would certainly catapult Orlando into the Boston/Detroit level.
Odds of a deal: 60-1
Suitor # 5: Cavaliers
The principals: Drew Gooden ($6.5 million), Larry Hughes ($12 million)
The skinny: Sorry, Cleveland, but the next time you see Kidd and LeBron James wearing the same uniform will be next summer in Beijing. Gooden is attractive to New Jersey, but Hughes' onerous contract ($26.4 million remaining over the next two seasons) and inability to hit a jump shot (34.9 percent from the field) makes him about as desirable as an encore screening of Gigli. But it's nice to fantasize about the number of point-blank shots James would get running the fast break with Kidd.
Odds of a deal: 80-1
The real longshots: Sacramento (Mike Bibby), Charlotte (Emeka Okafor), L.A. Clippers (Elton Brand)
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