Kidd vs. Devin: Tweaking the Hindsight?
I still - as always - wouldn't have pulled the trigger on Jason Kidd and two No. 1 draft picks, etc. for Devin Harris and Antoine Wright, etc.
But I'll admit, Kidd has been better than any of us expected. And today - as the Mavericks prepare to enter the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets - the trade looks less lopsided than ever.
Diluted into a weakside, third-option set-shooter by a former, narrow-minded head coach (Avery Johnson) who considered him too old, too slow and barely functional, Kidd has been unleashed by Rick Carlisle. He's taken - and made - critical 3-pointers all year. He's packed the stat sheet and saturated the intangibles by diving for loose balls and even defending LeBron James.
Against the San Antonio Spurs he rarely stayed in front of Tony Parker, but he appropriately probed and exploited a cheating defense and committed only an uncanny three turnovers in five games.
For the future - Kidd's a declining free agent; Harris is a rising All-Star - I'd still rather have Devin and the draft picks. But for the present - on the eve of a tangle with Denver's savvy and strong, but not overly quick, Chauncey Billups - Kidd is a better fit.
Has one series changed your mind about the most controversial trade in Mavs' history?
After the Game 5 triumph in San Antonio, Jason Terry giddily blurted out that Dallas' urgency is partially fueled by the fact that "Jason Kidd is probably not going to be with us next year. The time is now."
Bottom line: Kidd will be back if owner Mark Cuban wants him back. The Mavs can offer Kidd the most money. The end.
But next year could be four games away, or, who know, two months from now.
In the immediate future - starting with Sunday's Game 1 in Denver - the Mavs have a better chance of beating the Nuggets with Kidd's basketball IQ than Harris' basketball talent. Why?
Because this series needs to be drastically different than the first round. Kidd controls this team's pulse and pace, and he needs to downshift into a slower, half-court game. Get in an up-tempo track meet against the quicker, younger, more athletic Nuggets and the Mavs will get run outta the gym.
Cuban took a nanosecond to TweetGloat via Twitter yesterday, posing the rhetorical question, "How many starting point guards in the West under the age of 30 will be playing after Saturday?"
He's right. For now.
But, ultimately, won't the Kidd-Devin trade be judged on whether or not the Mavs win a championship? When Sports Illustrated blurted "Go For It" in the trade's aftermath, I'm pretty sure "it" wasn't the second round.
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