July 01, 2009
The confusion just continually leaves me speechless. I usually don't know where to begin little columns like this, but I feel as if I must forge on, even if half my adult life has been spent warning people not to overrate Jason Kidd(notes).
Dallas owner Mark Cuban met with the free agent point guard sometime early Wednesday morning in New York, in a desperate move to try and beat the New York Knicks from signing away the nine-time All-Star. The Portland Trail Blazers, for whatever reason, have also expressed interest.
I'm expressing some interest, as well. I'm interested in just what the hell these teams — New York and Portland, especially — see in Kidd.
The guy is 36 years of age. By the time the playoffs start next spring, he'll be 37. This isn't just old for point guards, this is old for any athlete. And it's also old for point guards. It's ancient for point guards. Mo Cheeks was in a walker by age 35.
Kidd has enjoyed a fantastic career. A great deal of what he provides cannot show up in individual statistics, but individual statistics have also helped inflate his worth. He's a bit of a liability to an offense if he isn't dominating the rock, dishing out tons of assists. He has a reputation as a fast-break point guard, but I can't tell you how many would-be breaks have been halted by Kidd chasing after rebounds, instead of leaking out and waiting for the outlet pass. And his jumper, though on-point in 2008-09, comes and goes.
This is the point where I have to point out that I'm not pointing toward denigrating this point guard's skills. He's a fine, fine player, even at this stage. He helps teams. I just don't get where he fits into the plan for a team like the Knicks, or the Trail Blazers.
New York? I thought you were starting from scratch? I thought you were turning it around? I thought every penny was for this time, 12 months from now?
Is this supposed to intrigue LeBron James(notes)? Give Chris Bosh(notes) room for pause? A man who, should they sign into your fold, will be 38 by the time their first postseason as a New York Knick commences? Someone who will be three years older than the guy who was too old to be anything but a defensive liability in the face of Chris Paul(notes) in 2008?
On the court, sure, he can help. He can push the ball and find teammates and make life fun. But what are we shooting for, here? 40 wins? A bit of fun while rebuilding? Can't that be done with a series of prospects that don't cost as much, or won't eat into the 2010 cap space? Isn't this severely impatient?
Portland already started over. They already brought in the youth. Things are humming along. So why hand money and minutes to a man who will be near retirement age (or, retired) by the time your core is in its prime? Why waste the money? Why waste the roster spot?
And, in both cases, where's the work? Where's the creativity in throwing mid-level exception money at Jason Kidd, even if he re-signs with Dallas? Just to say you made an attempt? Just to give the fair weather fans who aren't really up on NBA comings and goings something to perk to? If that's it, then this is incredibly crass and cynical.
I'm not going to buy that throwing out potential suitors to the press is Kidd's way of gaining leverage. I think the teams are really after him, for whatever reason. It's bad leveraging anyway, mainly because Mark Cuban was always going to offer Kidd above MLE money. Kidd doesn't need the leverage.
And he certainly doesn't need his name in the papers, because it's that name that is getting him these potential offers, right now.
Think about it. He averaged nine points and nine assists last year. Nine and nine. I know he rebounded half as much as Kidd, but a 29-year old Brevin Knight(notes) averaged 10 and nine (with a bunch of steals, like Jason) for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004-05, and were teams banging down his door at 12:01 a.m. to try and sign the guy that summer? And Kidd ain't 29. He's 36. The dog years, for a point guard. So what's the difference?
Jason Kidd's been an All-Star. Brevin Knight never was. Jason Kidd's been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Knight? Not so much. As it has been for years with Kidd, it is reputation gone mad. Style over substance.
Now, I give the Mavs a break on this. Mark Cuban wants to tinker, he doesn't want to blow things up, he's not likely to give Kidd a massive deal, and he has his as-yet-unexplained set of statistical data that vaults Kidd to the top of the most valuable players in this league in his hand. He wants his team back, with Kidd running things. Can't blame the guy. And the money he's probably offering Jason is fair.
It's the Knicks and Blazers that get me. Why New York would want to sign anyone past 2009-10, much less a 36-year old point guard, just baffles me to no end. Even nodding in Kidd's direction confuses me, because Kidd has always thought money-first, and the Mavs were always going to offer him the most money.
And if I'm a Knicks or Blazers fan, I'm a little upset at this. I want my team thinking about 2010, if I wear the blue and orange. If I support the Blazers, I'm hoping that Kevin Pritchard brings in a series of players whose ages actually match up with Brandon Roy(notes) and Greg Oden(notes), instead of Alan Henderson(notes) and Brian Evans.
Even if it is a ploy, and Kidd scampers back to Dallas by the end of today's trading day, it's a feint that I just can't get behind.