Asked if he or Kidd had ever requested such powers, Goodwin booms, "No. Of course not. It's not basketball protocol. They come to him in this helicopter with all this flamboyance, making promises and saying, 'You're the Man. We want to talk to you before we do anything.' Here he is, this 22-, 23-year-old kid. And then they don't do it! They got [center Eric] Montross in a trade. They traded away Popeye Jones. They hired Jimmy Cleamons, who had a relationship with Jimmy Jackson dating back to when he recruited him for Ohio State. [Indeed, Jackson had been on the trading block until Cleamons was hired on May 31.] Fine. But there weren't any calls [to Kidd]. Well, what do you expect Jason to think? He turns around and says, 'They're not doing what they said.' "
Zaccanelli, who also was not at Stone-briar but who supplied answers on behalf of Perot and McDavid to questions about the meeting, says, "If that's what Jason and his people took away from that meeting, then we had a huge communication gap. We acknowledged there were problems; we all agreed we needed to fix them. And I really believe we've moved on."
Or maybe not. "Now," says Goodwin, "there's a lesser chance of Jason returning to the team when he can leave than there was before the new management bought the team."
Considering that Kidd has seven years left on his original nine-year, $54.2 million contract, the greater concern for Dallas may be whether any real rapprochement between Kidd and the Mavs has taken place. And in the past few months Kidd—in what's become a pattern for him—gave conflicting signals.
Just days after Kidd retracted his June trade ultimatum, he broke a promise to Cleamons to make himself available by conference call for a clear-the-air team meeting on June 29. After that, Kidd and Cleamons didn't speak for nearly two months. When they finally met again on Aug. 19 in Dallas, Kidd emerged saying bygones were bygones.
So what's going on? "I'm excited about the moves the new management has made," Kidd said as camp opened, rattling off the acquisitions of Montross, Gatling and veteran point guard Derek Harper. "[But] I felt a lot of smoke was blown in my face by management. I don't feel Jimmy needs to be traded. Or that I need to be traded. But again, the question is, Do we want to win? I'm not just directing that to Jamal or to Jimmy. There were too many separate agendas last year."
When the season began last week, the Mavs' three young stars were promising to be "professional"; Jackson and Kidd, along with Harper, were elected co-captains by their teammates. Kidd and Jackson talked several times during camp, and each expressed some regrets. And Cleamons, a firm and philosophical man, should bring considerable wisdom to the situation.
Now the ball is again in Kidd's hands, literally and figuratively. "I've talked the talk, I've got to walk the walk," he says. Given Kidd's frequent flip-flopping, it's hard to know if it's more dark foreshadowing—or an innocuous observation—when he looks back on what he's learned and says that part of becoming a leader is realizing that "there's going to be some friction."