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Thread: Insider 1/29/04

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    Default Insider 1/29/04

    Will Kidd be the next Net to go?

    By Chad Ford
    NBA Insider
    Send an Email to Chad Ford Thursday, January 29
    Updated: January 29
    9:55 AM ET

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    Why the obsession over Jason Kidd's role in firing Byron Scott?

    Rod Thorn denies it. Kidd is adamant he had nothing to do with it. Scott feels like he and Kidd are friends. But just about everyone in the media believes all three men are lying through their teeth on the subject.

    Will we ever get to the bottom of the mystery? More importantly, do we really need to?

    Say what you will about Scott's two consecutive Finals appearances, but this season's Nets, to put it delicately, stink. The fire and passion the team had the last two years are gone. Is that Scott's fault? Probably. The players? Probably.

    My guess is that after two straight beatings in the Finals, the loss of Alonzo Mourning dampened spirts to the point where the Nets took a look at the Western Conference and collectively said, "Why bother?"

    How many times do you climb Mount Everest knowing that, despite your best effort, you're not going to reach the summit with the team you have?

    Scott is checking the want ads right now because Thorn didn't believe Scott was going to get the Nets any further than he already had. Clearly Kidd believed this as well. Was Thorn's decision based entirely on Kidd's feeling on the matter. It's highly unlikely. Was he influenced by it? Sure, just as every other GM in the league would've been. Most teams would be happy with multiple Finals appearances, even without the ultimate victory. Thorn and Kidd don't think that way. Both are playing for a championship. They've done second place and were ready for something else.

    The question no one seems to be asking right now as we collectively point fingers Kidd's way is ... what is that something else?

    Lawrence Frank? Please. I don't care if he is the second coming of Jeff Van Gundy. Frank, I'm fairly confident, can't go out and stop Tim Duncan or Shaquille O'Neal in a seven-game series.

    Jim O'Brien? I like the sound of that. The Nets are talented offensively and have the tools defensively to turn into an all-around team. O'Brien would be a perfect fit in New Jersey. But again, even with O'Brien's experience and coaching savvy, I don't think it's enough to get the Nets past any of the top five teams in the West.

    Thorn and Kidd don't believe that either. They know that without a healthy Mourning patrolling the middle, the West is too strong. They know that the Mavs, Lakers, T-Wolves, Spurs and Kings are going to stay that way for the next several years. They also know that there's little the Nets can do about it in the short run.


    The Nets would be better off in the long run if Kidd (left) and Tony Parker (right) switched uniforms.
    The Nets are way over the cap. The team is about to be sold, which is a good thing, but the Nets are still a few years away from being relocated to Brooklyn. Their franchise player, Kidd, will be 31 in March. Their second-best player, Kenyon Martin, is heading into free agency and, right now, it looks like the Nets can't afford to re-sign him if he gets a big offer somewhere else. Their best big man, Mourning, is retiring, but his contract won't come off the books for two more seasons. Their second-best big man is playing for the Knicks and won't come off the books until the summer of 2005. Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins are also eyeing free agency in 2005. Their best young prospect, Eddie Griffin, just went back into rehab. The team has no bench and very little cap flexibility to use its mid-level exception to get more help there.

    If that doesn't sound like a rosy picture of the top team in the Atlantic, it's because the Nets have some serious problems. Not problems like the Bulls or Hawks have problems, but real problems when you figure out that their goal is to win a championship, and they no longer have the flexibility to make the moves necessary to get that done.

    Isn't just a matter of time before the wolves turn on Kidd? Like it or not, the heat is now on him to prove that dumping Scott was the right move for the Nets to make. If they continue to struggle, or if they lose a player like Martin in free agency this summer, their window will abruptly close and Kidd will have to take the fall.

    This gets me back to the story first reported on Insider a little over a month ago. It's time for Thorn and Kidd to sit down and agree to amicable breakup. Kidd, and the nice collection of young players Thorn put together in New Jersey, got the Nets further up the mountain than any other team in the East the past two seasons. They aren't reaching the summit as long as Kidd wears a Nets uniform.

    That's not a dig on Kidd who, in my mind, is still the best point guard in the NBA. Kidd's presence absolutely turned around one of the worst franchises in the league. The Nets' two runs at the Finals were amazing. Nor is it a dig on Thorn, who put together a team he felt could win it all.

    The challenge now is for Thorn to recognize that, if he chooses to rebuild right now, the Nets can remain more than respectable and reload for the next 10 years. If he waits another year or two before coming to the decision, Kidd's chance at a championship and the Nets' ability to rebuild quickly will be destroyed.

    There's precedent here. Donnie Walsh started blowing up his Pacers the summer after they competed in the NBA Finals when he decided to trade away Antonio Davis for the draft rights to 18-year-old Jonathan Bender. The next year he shipped Dale Davis out of town for an underachieving kid in Portland named Jermaine O'Neal. The fans freaked out, but Walsh knew what he was doing.

    "I just felt we had come as far as we were going to go," Walsh told Insider. "I knew we could compete for the Eastern Conference championship a few more years, but at what price? I didn't want to be engaged in a 10 year rebuilding process just to keep winning the East. The goal of any franchise is to win it all. I knew if I started when we started, we'd have a chance to rebuild without ever getting really bad. I think that's important. You can't underestimate keeping a winning culture in place on a team."

    The Pacers are now fully reloaded and sport the best record in the East. This time, however, they are stacked with young players at almost every position. Their window, barring a tragic injury or two, should be open for the next six to seven years.

    How does Thorn do it? By trading Kidd to the Spurs. Kidd wants to play there. He believes that if he's paired up with the Tim Duncan, the Spurs have as good a shot as any team to win it all. The Spurs want him there and have the assets to make a trade that makes sense for Thorn.

    What makes sense for both teams? If the Nets sent Kidd and Brandon Armstrong to San Antonio for Tony Parker, Ron Mercer and Robert Horry, both sides could come out of this big winners.

    The Spurs, with the addition of Kidd, would be instant favorites (yes, even over the Lakers) to win the NBA title for the next few seasons.

    The Nets, with the addition of Parker, secure a young, dynamic point guard who just happens to be 10 years younger than Kidd. In New Jersey's offensive scheme, Parker would have the chance to be an all-star. Mercer and Horry both come off the books this summer, clearing enough room for the Nets to re-sign Martin and stay under the luxury tax.

    In the summer of 2005, Kerry Kittles and Mutombo come off the books, which will free up enough room for the Nets to pay Parker, Jefferson and Collins without getting back into luxury-tax land. When you figure into the equation that center Nenad Kristic (one of the best young centers in Europe) and last year's first-round pick, Zoran Planinic, are also on the team, the Nets suddenly have one of the best young teams in the league with a much lower price tag.

    There's no reason to believe that a team this talented couldn't at least secure an eighth seed in the East. Within a two-year window, they could easily be battling the Pacers and Pistons again for the conference title. The difference this time is that the team would be looking at a six-year window to get to the Finals and defeat a team in the West.

    Given the financial realities that face the Nets right now, it may be the only way to get the spending under control and keep a good, young team on the floor.

    Around the League

    # Bulls, Clippers trying to make a deal? The Bulls and Clippers began discussions about a week ago on a way to get big man Melvin Ely to Chicago. At the time, talk of a possible Marcus Fizer-for-Ely swap seemed to be about as far as either team was willing to go. The Clippers are trying to clear more cap room to make a run at Kobe Bryant, and getting Ely's contract ($1.7 million next year) off the books helped.

    Since then, however, talk of a larger Bulls-Clippers swap has taken hold. Bulls GM John Paxson likes Clippers' combo guard Marko Jaric and has tried to get him worked into the deal. The Clippers are balking unless the Bulls throw in their combo guard, Jamal Crawford. That may be too much for Paxson to swallow. Paxson likes Jaric's tough defense and ability to play three positions on the floor, but Crawford is a high price to pay for Jaric. Clippers president Elgin Baylor likes Crawford's ability to run the point and scoring ability in the backcourt.

    Can the two sides make a deal? If the Clippers were willing to substitute local product Quentin Richardson for Jaric, the Bulls would give up Crawford in a heartbeat. However, it's very unlikely that the Clippers would do that, even with the possibility of landing Kobe Bryant to replace Richardson this summer. More realistically, Ely, Jaric and Keyon Dooling for Fizer and Crawford works salary-wise and would address the needs of both clubs.

    # Boozer not going anywhere this summer: I got a flood of e-mails on Wednesday asking why Carlos Boozer wasn't on Insider list of top 2004 free agents. The answer is pretty simple. The Cavs have a team option on Boozer's third season. That means that Cavs fans call breathe a little easier. Cavs GM Jim Paxson had the foresight to lock Boozer up for three years. When he becomes a restricted free agent in 2005, the Cavs will own his Bird Rights and be able to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.

    Carlos Boozer
    Power Forward
    Cleveland Cavaliers
    Profile


    2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
    GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
    38 14.0 11.0 2.1 .505 .763

    Had the Cavs only locked Boozer up for two years, they would be faced with the same dilemma that the Warriors faced last summer with Gilbert Arenas and that the Pistons (Mehmet Okur) and the Spurs (Emanuel Ginobili) face this season. A team that has a player under contract for only two years only gets Early Bird Rights, meaning that it can only offer a player its available cap room or, if over the cap, only up to the average player salary (around $4.9 million). If another team offers more, the chance that you lose your free agent is high. It's a lesson that NBA GMs are slowly learning. You see a lot more second-round picks now getting two-years deal with a team option for the third year to protect team from having to deal with an Early Bird free agent.

    # Isiah begging teams to take Shandon Anderson: How desperate is Isiah Thomas to trade Shandon Anderson? According to Newsday, Thomas has tried to pawn him off on the Blazers (for Ruben Patterson, a convicted felon), the Mavericks (for Tariq Abdul-Wahad who basically can't play) and the Raptors (for Lamond Murray).

    Patterson? Abdul-Wahad? Murray? Are there three uglier contracts in the NBA? Apparently, Anderson's is worse as Thomas has been unable to convince any of those teams to take on Shandon. Anderson is due a whopping $23 million over the next three seasons and Thomas wants him out of there, despite that fact that he may be the Knicks' most athletic backcourt defender. Anderson's refusal to go on the injured list this week (he claimed he wasn't hurt) has only caused more grief. According to the New York Daily News, Thomas' inability to trade Anderson has lead to buyout negotiations but so far, no deal.

    # Hawks free to deal? Hawks GM Billy Knight claims that he has the power to make trades now, even though the sale of the Hawks is still pending. "I haven't come across anything that makes enough sense for me," Knight told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I'm talking about everything. That's trades, rumors of coaching changes, everything. I'm not going to do anything until I see something that makes sense for us."

    "Everyone thinks we should do something," Knight said. "I don't care about everything else that goes on in the league. When I think we can do something that makes sense, I will do it."

    That's at odds with what GMs around the league have told Insider. With new ownership and potentially new management set to take over in the next few weeks, several GMs have claimed that Knight's hands are tied until the new guys take over.

  2. #2
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider 1/29/04

    Just want to highlight this part


    [size=18:e85eeec44d]There's precedent here. Donnie Walsh started blowing up his Pacers the summer after they competed in the NBA Finals when he decided to trade away Antonio Davis for the draft rights to 18-year-old Jonathan Bender. The next year he shipped Dale Davis out of town for an underachieving kid in Portland named Jermaine O'Neal. The fans freaked out, but Walsh knew what he was doing.

    "I just felt we had come as far as we were going to go," Walsh told Insider. "I knew we could compete for the Eastern Conference championship a few more years, but at what price? I didn't want to be engaged in a 10 year rebuilding process just to keep winning the East. The goal of any franchise is to win it all. I knew if I started when we started, we'd have a chance to rebuild without ever getting really bad. I think that's important. You can't underestimate keeping a winning culture in place on a team."

    The Pacers are now fully reloaded and sport the best record in the East. This time, however, they are stacked with young players at almost every position. Their window, barring a tragic injury or two, should be open for the next six to seven years.[/size]

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    Default Re: Insider 1/29/04

    No one outside of Indy seems to know when we went to the Finals.

    If you were to only read that article, you would think we were in the '99 Finals. ed:

  4. #4
    Member Ragnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Insider 1/29/04

    Considering we were the better team in 99 I can see how people think that way.

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