On Wednesday night, most everyone believed that Mavericks free agent Jason Kidd would be coming back to Dallas next season for what league sources believed would be a three-year, $9.5 million deal. But on Thursday, according to a source, Kidd changed his mind and accepted a similar deal to play with the Knicks next season, leaving Dallas in the lurch for a starting point guard for next season.
Kidd, second on the NBA’s all-time list in assists and steals, will bring veteran poise and leadership to the Knicks next season, whether he is starting or coming off the bench. New York struggled to find consistent, quality point guard play for most of the season, other than when Jeremy Lin captivated the nation in February with a sterling stretch of play. The Knicks are likely to match any offer for Lin, a restricted free agent who met with the Rockets Wednesday, and who Knicks coach Mike Woodson called his unequivocal starter for next season.
Kidd only averaged 6.2 points and 5.5 assists for Dallas last season, the lowest averages of his career in those stats, and he is not the defensive force he was when he starred with the New Jersey Nets. But he’s still an outstanding passer, a much improved perimeter shooter compared to earlier in his career and a proven leader.
A full season of a Lin-Kidd tandem at the point, along with a return to health of guard Iman Shumpert–who tore knee ligaments during the Knicks’ first-round loss to Miami–could make New York a formidable challenger in the east next season.
The 39-year-old Kidd may have been influenced by Dallas’ inability to secure the services of free agents despite clearing significant cap room last season by not bringing back key components of the team that won the NBA title in 2011. The Mavericks let starting center Tyson Chandler go to New York, and didn’t make substantial offers for guard J.J. Barea, who signed with Minnesota. Instead, the Mavericks hoped they’d be able to convince free agent Deron Williams to come.
At one point, the Mavericks dreamed of being able to get both Williams and Dwight Howard to come as free agents, but Howard’s decision to opt in for the final year of his contract made that dream less likely. The Mavericks looked like they struck gold last December when they were able to acquire forward Lamar Odom from the Lakers, but Odom had a disastrous year, was removed from the team late in the regular season and was traded to the Clippers last month in a four-team deal that sent guard Mo Williams to Utah.
On Monday, Jason Terry, a free agent after this past season, agreed to terms on a three-year deal with Boston. On Tuesday, Williams decided to remain in Brooklyn with the Nets, and the Mavs’ hopes of bringing Steve Nash back seven years after he left town for Phoenix were dashed on Wednesday when the Lakers and Suns agreed to a sign-and-trade at Nash’s request that will send him to Los Angeles in exchange for four future Draft picks and cash.
That left Kidd, the Mavs’ starter at the point the last four-plus seasons since coming to Dallas in a trade from New Jersey in 2008, as the team’s next target.
Now that Kidd is apparently leaving as well, Dallas will go to the next names on their list: restricted free agent guard Aaron Brooks and Clippers unrestricted free agent Randy Foye. The Mavs will also try to re-sign guard Delonte West. Dallas does have an $8.9 million trade exception that was created in the Odom deal after the Mavericks only took back the Draft rights to forward Tadija Dragicevic from Utah and cash from Houston instead of salaries.