To get Jason Kidd out of his life, Rod Thorn would’ve traded him yesterday. The relationship between the team president and superstar has deteriorated into bitter acrimony. Once, they were golfing buddies and confidants and now, sources say, they can barely stand to sit on opposite ends of the team bus.
“It’s really bad,” said a league source close to Thorn and Kidd.
Kidd wants out, he says. This has been the story for a year. His agent, Jeff Schwartz, has asked Thorn again.
Truth be told, Thorn had to understand that he and Kidd passed a point of no return on the December night his superstar sent a text message in the early afternoon to say a migraine would keep him out of a game with the New York Knicks. Publicly, Thorn defended Kidd, but privately he seethed.
He knew the truth: Kidd bailed on the New Jersey Nets.
Thorn should’ve started soliciting offers that night, but that’s happening now. Kidd is on the way out, another acrimonious parting as had been the case with him in Dallas and Phoenix.
“Ownership was stopping this from happening, but even they’ve thrown their hands up and said, “OK, find a deal,’ ” a league source close to Nets management said.
Now, the Nets are on a nine-game spiral, the franchise is unraveling and Kidd is getting louder about wanting out. The possibility? The Nets were telling people it was just 25 percent Monday, but the team is a dysfunctional mess. With the Feb. 21 trade deadline nearing, the Nets and Dallas Mavericks have exchanged several proposals, but it always comes back to the realization that they need a third team to make this happen. Dallas owner Mark Cuban refuses to part with Josh Howard. The Nets want a package that includes a good young player, an expiring contract, draft picks and cash.
Denver is intrigued with Kidd, too, and recently tossed out Allen Iverson’s name. The Nets aren’t going there with AI, and Nuggets executives are telling confidants that they’re out of the bidding for now because the Nets are asking too steep a price. Cleveland has offered every possible package, but so far there’s no scenario where Kidd could join LeBron James.
Back in the summer, Kidd considered it disrespectful that the Nets invested $61.8 million to keep Vince Carter without offering him his own contract extension. Kidd’s max-out contract expires at the end of the 2008-09 season and friction between him and management started when his request for a one-year, $13 million extension was rebuffed.
As those close to Kidd insisted, his attitude was simple: If you won’t trade me, pay me. Kidd was still chasing triple-doubles most nights, but the Nets struggled to compete around him. They stopped defending. They stopped running. Privately, Kidd blamed Carter’s competiveness, but there are issues and holes throughout the roster.
Thorn has tried to trade Carter – offering him to the Knicks in a package for Jamal Crawford – but no one wants him. The infrastructure of the franchise has come apart. The Carter contract is a killer. The future of Nenad Krstic is uncertain with a rehab from an ACL injury that has extended over a year. The Nets’ bench is still spotty. The team is no longer responding to coach Lawrence Frank.
Privately, Kidd is telling friends that he wants to go to Dallas. He desperately wanted the Lakers’ trade to happen at last season’s deadline, but Thorn wouldn’t do it without prying away Andrew Bynum. This season, Kidd pushed to play with LeBron, but the Cavs don’t have enough to offer. Yes, Dallas makes the most sense for Kidd. He knows they need his leadership. He knows Cuban will absorb his contract. He knows that they’re the best chance he has to get out of Jersey and get a championship before he retires.
This saga has gone on too long and it’s time to end it. Rod Thorn has until the trade deadline to solicit the best offers for Kidd, and there should be no turning back now. He shouldn’t do this for Kidd, but for his franchise. This isn’t about getting a great deal anymore. This is about getting the best deal. It’s over. There’s no loyalty here, no love, no reason to stay together. The Nets have grown to loathe their franchise player and he desperately wants out.
Nothing ever ends well for the New Jersey Nets, nor does it for Jason Kidd. Maybe together, they were always doomed.