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Sizing up the suitors

Handicapping the Nets' odds of unloading Jason Kidd

Posted: Wednesday January 30, 2008 12:33AM; Updated: Wednesday January 30, 2008 10:17AM
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Vince Carter may loath such a notion, but Jason Kidd would be an ideal fit in a second tour of duty with the Mavericks.
Vince Carter may loath such a notion, but Jason Kidd would be an ideal fit in a second tour of duty with the Mavericks.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The first Jason Kidd sighting came at 5:06 p.m., when Kidd emerged from the tunnel adjacent to the Nets' locker room and headed to the court for a brief warm-up. As he tossed up shots, Kidd joked with an assistant coach and even engaged in a playful tussle with Richard Jefferson as Jefferson was leaving the court.

Fifteen minutes later, Kidd was gone, back down the same tunnel from whence he came. He stopped to sign a few autographs from a group of kids who had been clamoring for him before racing back down the tunnel.

You would never know he wanted no part of being there.

Trade speculation involving Kidd has become almost an annual event in New Jersey. In 2005, Kidd, irate at management for letting Kenyon Martin leave via free agency, reportedly tried to force his way out of the Swamp. Right around this time last year, the Nets were trying to persuade the Lakers to part with Andrew Bynum in exchange for Kidd, only to have the Lakers balk.

So while while it is not a revelation that Kidd recently asked out of New Jersey, this time Nets president Rod Thorn may oblige.

Why? Because the Nets are not a good team.

On Tuesday night, the Nets snapped a nine-game losing streak with an 87-80 win over Milwaukee. New Jersey struggled to beat a team that was playing without star shooting guard Michael Redd and forward Desmond Mason. The Nets survived despite shooting 40.5 percent from the field (including 31.3 percent from three-point range) and having just two players score in double figures.

This is not a championship team Thorn has assembled in New Jersey. It's not even a playoff team. The trio of Kidd ($19.7 million salary), Vince Carter ($15 million) and Jefferson ($12.2 million) have gobbled up nearly all of the Nets' cap space, leaving retreads like Malik Allen, Bostjan Nachbar and an aging Jamaal Magloire as complementary players. While young big men Sean Williams and Josh Boone have shown potential, Thorn's other recent draft picks (Marcus Williams, Antoine Wright) haven't panned out yet.

Which has left Kidd, well, frustrated. Especially when no one wants to talk about the game.

Afterward, one reporter asked Kidd about his recent trade demand.

"Good try, though," Kidd said.

Another followed up with a similar question.

"Strike two," Kidd said.

Kidd's trade demand is going to be the topic du jour in New Jersey, with the 312 local papers all speculating on his preferred destination and how much he has left in the tank.

"I really don't think he has lost a step," an advance scout said. "It just looks like he's not trying that hard. He still has a lot left and if he is traded, whatever team gets him, look out."

Who will that team be? I'm of the opinion that Kidd will remain in New Jersey, at least until the offseason when Thorn can deal from a stronger position. Any deal now would net the Nets maybe 40 cents on the dollar. But since playing GM is fun, let's visit a couple of trade scenarios. Bear in mind, these trades involve just the main pieces it will take to get Kidd. In most cases, some throw-ins will be needed to make the salaries match.

Suitor #1: Mavericks

The principals: Jason Terry ($8.9 million), Devean George ($2.1 million) and DeSagana Diop ($2.1 million)

The skinny: The Mavericks are always going to be on a potential list to acquire Kidd because a) they have the appropriate assets and b) Kidd wants to play there. But while Dallas may have been willing to put together an attractive package for Kidd last season (read: Devin Harris), it is less than appealing now. Harris, one of the premier defensive point guards in the Western Conference, is off-limits in any deal for Kidd. His replacement on the bargaining table is Terry, who is older (30 compared to the 24-year-old Harris) and more expensive, making him significantly less appealing.

Odds of a deal: 10-1

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