New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd pauses during NBA basketball action against the Miami Heat in Miami, Florida, February 1, 2008. [Agencies]
DALLAS - Jason Kidd appears headed back to where his career began, rejoining the Dallas Mavericks in the latest Western Conference megatrade.
Kidd is the centerpiece of a proposed deal between the Mavericks and New Jersey. Various media reports say Dallas will send emerging point guard Devin Harris, veteran Jerry Stackhouse and reserves DeSagana Diop, Devean George and Maurice Ager to the Nets, with forward Malik Allen going from New Jersey to the Mavericks.
The details still were being worked out, but Nets coach Lawrence Frank already was talking about life without his All-Star point guard.
"I love him. He's a very special person, but it's time for both him and the organization to part ways," Frank said before the Nets' game in Toronto.
"We're giving up a Hall of Fame point guard and some good role players. If this deal goes through, we'll be receiving some very good players as well and a new era of Nets basketball will start because Jason is that significant a player."
Kidd was with the Nets in Toronto, but didn't talk to the media before the game. He and Allen were both inactive, along with reserve Antoine Wright.
Stackhouse said that he may be able to rejoin Dallas within 30 days, an indication the Nets would buy out his contract.
"I feel great. I get 30 days to rest, then I'll be right back," he said. "I ain't going nowhere."
By adding Kidd, the Mavericks are clearly in a win-now mode. He is 10 years older than the 24-year-old Harris, but also far more ready to lead a team on a title hunt. Dallas has been close in recent years, losing in the NBA finals in 2006, then winning 67 games last season before flaming out in the first round.
Mavs officials were reluctant to shake up their core, but a recent slump and some big additions by Western Conference rivals may have helped change their minds.
"I think Devin has a lot of upside, but Jason Kidd is the type of all-league point guard our teams needs," Stackhouse said. "We just need a jolt. Adding a player like him can re-energize a team, hopefully."
Dallas and New Jersey were in serious talks about Kidd earlier this month. Stackhouse said it was almost nailed down Tuesday night, then called off, only to be revived again Wednesday morning.
The top teams in the West have stocked up their rosters in recent weeks. The Lakers got things rolling by plucking Pau Gasol from Memphis and last week Phoenix traded for Shaquille O'Neal. San Antonio added point guard Damon Stoudamire to its rotation.
Mavs brass resisted overhauling the team in the offseason and held steady the last few months. Whether it was the team's sloppy play of late or to counter the moves made by their rivals, owner Mark Cuban finally felt the time was right.
Dallas (34-17) was tied with the Lakers for the third-best record in the West going into Wednesday night's game against Portland, but was coming off two ugly losses -- one against Kidd and the Nets on Sunday -- and has yet to play up to coach Avery Johnson's expectations for long stretches. Their recent slide was partly because Harris has been out with an ankle injury.
"It's been kind of stagnant all season," Stackhouse said. "I think you just try to find the right piece. Maybe this is the right piece that really helps our team, that gets our scorers easy opportunities. Getting Pau or Shaq wouldn't have helped that case. Getting a point guard, that gets you easy opportunities. It solves that issue for us."
Kidd has been looking to get out of New Jersey for months. The Nets are 23-29 and unlikely to be contenders in the East, like he made them for most of his tenure.
Kidd led New Jersey to the NBA finals in each of his first two seasons there, but the Nets haven't gotten past the second round of the playoffs since.
"He was a great teammate and friend to me," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. "Of course you want to see him happy, but also you would like to believe that we could have tried to figure out a way to get the problem here fixed. He didn't believe the problem could be fixed so he asked out and they accommodated him. I think a lot of that was the respect they had for him and what he's done here."
Kidd's arrival should be a boon to reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki, providing him with the easy baskets he used to get when teamed with Steve Nash. His presence also will open things up for Josh Howard, plus let Jason Terry spend more time at shooting guard.
Harris' numbers have gone up in each of his four seasons, helping him earn a five-year contract worth roughly $42 million before this season.
However, he's nowhere near the distributor Kidd is, nor is he liable to get a triple-double. He may eventually have that well-rounded of a game, but the Mavericks decided they couldn't wait.
Losing Diop hurts Dallas' front line, as he is the primary backup to starting center Erick Dampier. However, Diop -- who is a free agent after this season -- had fallen out of favor with Johnson lately.
George, also headed toward free agency, was in his second season with the Mavericks, but never found his niche because of injuries and a logjam at the small forward-shooting guard spots. Ager was another in that crowded mix. In his second year from Michigan State, he never worked his way into the rotation and recently was sent to the NBA Development League.
Allen was averaging 5.4 points in almost 16 minutes per game for New Jersey this season.
Kidd broke into the league in 1994-95 when Dallas made him the third overall pick. He was voted co-Rookie of the Year, but the club was such a mess it was better known as the Mav-wrecks. In fact, it was the trade of Kidd to the Phoenix Suns in December 1996 that convinced ownership to lure Don Nelson out of retirement, a hire that ultimately put Dallas back among the NBA's elite clubs.