Jason Kidd(notes) turns 38 on Wednesday, which qualifies him for the NBA’s senior citizen class. If the Dallas Mavericks point guard has his wish, he’ll play two more seasons until he’s 40 and retire as a reserve.
Kidd just isn’t sure he’ll get his wish.
If the NBA enters a lockout and the 2011-12 season is canceled, one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players said he’ll likely retire. With just a month left before the playoffs start, Kidd doesn’t know if his playing days will be over by the end of June.
“This could be it because it would be hard to come back after a lockout,” Kidd told Yahoo! Sports. “I would probably move on and join the next chapter of what I would be doing in life. But I hope that isn’t the case where it just ended without having one more season.”
Some of the league’s other elder statesmen will be facing similar decisions. Shaquille O’Neal(notes) (39), Steve Nash(notes) (36), Tim Duncan(notes) (turns 35 in April) and Kevin Garnett(notes) (35 on Saturday) will each have a year left on their contracts that could be wiped out by a season-long lockout. Grant Hill(notes) (38) will be a free agent this summer.
Garnett has hinted he could be done if the lockout cancels next season while O’Neal told Yahoo! Sports in an e-mail he’ll likely try to keep playing. Regardless, the NBA could be waving farewell to a generation of stars sooner than expected.
Kidd admits he could be facing a dilemma. His strong relationship with famed hotel and casino financier Steve Wynn also could lead to a new career opportunity.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing what his business was all about with the hotel business and understanding the success that he’s had here in the States and also in Macau,” Kidd said. “Also … hopefully I can go upstairs [to an NBA team’s front office] and put the pieces together with a basketball franchise. That would be fun. Front office or maybe coaching, play a little golf and look at it from a different side.”
Kidd was with the Phoenix Suns during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. And he remembers how tough it was to sometimes play on three consecutive nights.
“It’s just too much basketball, too short amount of time,” Kidd said. “I think this [Dallas] team would be fine because of our depth. But at the end of the day it becomes a sprint, not a marathon. Every game counts.
“It would be a great challenge, a fun challenge. In those types of circumstances, that’s what you hope the body and the mind are up for. I wouldn’t mind having that challenge, but I hope that’s not the case because there would be a lockout.”
Kidd’s play hasn’t dropped much in his 17th season, even while he’s had to battle an ever-increasing list of talented point guards that includes All-Stars Derrick Rose(notes), Chris Paul(notes), Deron Williams(notes), Rajon Rondo(notes) and Russell Westbrook(notes). The key for Kidd? He’s the “smartest player to ever play this game,” Mavs guard Jason Terry(notes) said.
“I’ve never seen a guy like him take one shot in a game and be the MVP of a game,” Terry said. “He gets 17 assists and only takes one shot. It’s unbelievable how he affects a game. He guards the toughest guards. At his age people say he’s getting slower, but he’s still there [defensively]. Guys ain’t just blowing by J-Kidd.”
Kidd ranks in the top 10 this season in assists per game (8.4), steals (1.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.7-to-1). Despite having microfracture knee surgery in 2004, Kidd has played in at least 80 games since the 2005-06 season and has not missed a game this season. Another key to his longevity is strengthening his legs with a daily weight-lifting regimen and an improved 3-point.
Still, he knows the time is coming when he’ll eventually be asked to move to the bench to make room for someone younger.
“I feel good now, but be it at 39, 40 [years old], giving a younger guard a spell for five or six minutes, I wouldn’t mind that because I still feel I can compete and help the team win,” Kidd said. “I can also share my experiences with that guard to make them better.”
Kidd has helped the Mavericks stay in contention with the Los Angeles Lakers for the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed. After twice losing in the NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets, he knows this could be his final chance to win a title. And if a lockout stretches too long into next season, his final game could coincide with the end of the Mavs’ playoff run.
“You’re not promised anything so this is a great opportunity,” Kidd said. “You got to take full advantage of it.”
Beasley, Wright grow outside of Miami
After LeBron James(notes) chose to sign with the Miami Heat, Heat president Pat Riley quickly agreed to trade forward Michael Beasley(notes) for two second-round picks and cash to the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to gain additional salary-cap flexibility. The following day, forward Dorell Wright(notes) ended his six-year stay with the Heat by signing a three-year, $11.4 million deal with the Golden State Warriors.
Riley didn’t want Beasley have to adapt to coming off the bench because of James’ addition. Trading Beasley gave the Heat the flexibility to sign Mike Miller(notes), who was more experienced, accustomed to playing a role and considered a more dependable shooter. Miller also was versatile enough to back up both the shooting guard and small forward positions.
Beasley and Wright have both improved with their new teams, though neither will make the playoffs this season. The question is whether the Heat would have been better off keeping Beasley – or Wright – with their current supporting cast struggling. No Miami player outside of James, Dwyane Wade(notes) or Chris Bosh(notes) is averaging more than eight points.
“I would have gladly stayed to take a back seat to three of the best players in the NBA to have a chance to win a championship,” Beasley told Yahoo! Sports.
Beasley averaged 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in two seasons with Miami, but his off-the-court issues raised concerns about his maturity. The second overall pick in the 2008 draft is averaging a career-high 19.1 points and 5.5 rebounds with the Timberwolves this season.
“What I got traded for was kind of surprising,” Beasley said. “Pat Riley stayed honest with me the whole way through. As soon as LeBron made his decision, I pretty much knew I was out. [Riley] told me he didn’t want to trade me, but if an opportunity presents itself that he can’t turn down – like getting the best players in the NBA – you have to jump at it.
Wright averaged 7.1 points for Miami last season and was suspended for two games after being charged for driving under the influence. He has become a candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player award with the Warriors this season, averaging 16.2 points while shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
“When the season was over I was pretty much sure they were going in a different direction and wanted to win now,” Wright said. “…If they asked me to come back, I definitely would have come back.”
Mavericks forward Caron Butler(notes) was projected to miss the rest of the season after rupturing his right patellar tendon on Jan. 1, but Butler now says doctors have told him he “has a shot” at returning in the playoffs. “Trust me, I’m busting my ass to get out there,” Butler told Yahoo! Sports. “I’m not on vacation right now. I’m working hard to get out there.” … Injured Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd(notes) could go through his first full-contact practice as early as Monday, an NBA source said. Redd hasn’t played since tearing his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on Jan. 10, 2010, against the Lakers. Practicing would be a big step for Redd, but the Bucks have no timetable for his return to games. … While the NCAA denied the appeal of Baylor freshman forward Perry Jones III and banned him five games next season for receiving impermissible benefits, it won’t matter because he’s expected to enter the NBA draft, a league source said. Jones is projected to be a high lottery pick. … Kentucky freshman forward Terrence Jones might have another reason to enter this June’s draft. The Wildcats are high on small forward recruit Michael Gilchrist and would probably want Jones to play more power forward if he stays. … While Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried has drawn comparisons to Dennis Rodman, one NBA scout likens him to another Detroit Piston: Ben Wallace(notes). The scout said Faried’s offense, like that of Wallace, is a concern, but he considers him a post-lottery first-round pick. “He’s arguably the best instinctive rebounder in some time who brings energy and effort to both ends of the floor,” the scout said.