By Chad Ford
The deal: Sam Cassell and Wally Szczerbiak for Kidd.
The other deal: Cassell and Latrell Sprewell for Kidd and Mourning.
The three-way deal: Cassell and Szczerbiak to Portland; Kidd and Mourning to the Wolves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ervin Johnson and Sebastian Telfair to the Nets.
For: The Timberwolves have been after Kidd since this summer. They were one of the only teams willing to make a trade before seeing Kidd make a successful return from surgery.
The first deal gives the Nets two players for the price of one. Put Cassell on the floor with Szczerbiak and Richard Jefferson and you have plenty of offense.
Deal 2 gives the team about $14 million in cap relief (Spree is off the books at the end of the season) but little else. The team likely would release Spree. He's unhappy in Minnesota. Can you imagine how he'd react going to the Nets?
In either case, the Nets would move Cassell to a third team. He wants a big contract extension (he won't get in New Jersey) and wants to play for a contender.
The best option for the Nets is a three-way with Minnesota and Portland. The Wolves would send Cassell and Szczerbiak to Portland and Johnson to the Nets, the Blazers would send Abdur-Rahim and Telfair to Nets and the Nets would send Kidd and Mourning to Minnesota.
Got all of that?
That move would give the Nets around $18 million in cap room to work with next summer and they'd have their young point guard of the future in Telfair. The Wolves move closer to a championship. A combo of Kidd, KG, Spree, Eddie Griffin and 'Zo and Michael Olowokandi is as good or better than what the Spurs have. The Blazers also get better. They get a good point guard and Szczerbiak, whom they've coveted all summer. That should be enough to push them back into the playoffs in the West.
Against: There are problems with all three deals.
The first one fails to give the Nets any sort of cap relief. While the combo of Cassell, Jefferson and Szczerbiak would be potent, the team still has done nothing to help their frontcourt or salary-cap woes.
In 2002, Abdur-Rahim (left), Kidd and Mourning (standing) were All-Star teammates. Could they soon be involved in a blockbuster trade?
The second one gives them cap relief, on Spree's deal, but then leaves them with an unhappy Cassell.
The third one depends on how you view Abdur-Rahim and Telfair. If you think Telfair is the next great thing at point guard and Abdur-Rahim is an underrated four, this deal probably looks great to you. If you think Telfair is overhyped and that Abdur-Rahim is a loser, it suddenly doesn't look so hot.
Insider Verdict: The three-way deal with Portland and Minnesota is the only one that really satisfies what the Nets are after. It gives the team enormous cap room, a young prospect at the point and the ability to re-sign Abdur-Rahim if he fits in with what Frank is doing. While it isn't perfect, it might be the most realistic option out there for the Nets if Portland is willing to drop its pursuit of Vince Carter to do the deal.
The deal: Jason Terry, Marquis Daniels and Alan Henderson for Kidd and Mourning.
For: It's no secret that Mavs owner Mark Cuban has coveted Kidd for a while. He made a serious pitch to Kidd two summers ago when the guard made his free-agent tour but eventually came up empty when the Nets refused to do a sign-and-trade.
Would they be interested now? The Mavs have a ton of assets to use in a trade and an owner that won't gag at the amount of financial risk he has to take.
Terry is a young point guard whose contract expires after the 2005-06 season. Daniels is signed to a long-term deal, but given the talent he's shown over the last year with the Mavs, he could be a bargain. Henderson's contract expires after the season, giving the Mavs $8.2 million in cap relief.
Kidd and Mourning give the Mavs instant credibility in the West. They have looked solid this year at every position but the point. With the ball in Kidd's hands, the Mavs would be even money with the Spurs to make it to the NBA Finals.
That's what Cuban is after, and Kidd might be the only player on the market who could deliver.
Against: That said, will Cuban do the deal? He balked at signing Steve Nash to a lucrative six-year, $60 million offer because of Nash's age and durability. Kidd is older, less durable and makes more money.
The deal also has pitfalls for the Nets.
While Terry is great scorer, he isn't much of a point guard. The fact that he was beaten out by the rookie Devin Harris should be your first clue. Daniels has the chance to be special, but will he fit the Nets' style of play? Henderson gives some cap relief and some help at the four, but getting his contract off the books won't be enough for the Nets to make a serious free-agent play next summer.
The Nets would have to wait until the summer of 2006, when Terry comes off the books, before they'd have enough cap room to make a big splash with free agents.
Insider Verdict: If the Nets can't work out something with Portland and Minnesota for a three-way deal, working out something with Dallas is probably their next best option. Daniels is a very good prospect, Henderson gives some serious cap relief next year and Terry would give them great flexibility in 2006. I also think this is the best fit for Kidd. The Mavs aren't giving up too much depth here and should give Kidd his best shot at an NBA title.
THE LONG SHOTS
Golden State Warriors
The deal: Mickael Pietrus, Speedy Claxton, Cliff Robinson and Dale Davis for Kidd and Mourning.
For: The Nets are looking for young players and expiring contracts, and they get both here. Claxton and Pietrus would form a nice young, athletic backcourt to put alongside Jefferson. They are both signed to small contracts yet have big upsides, especially Pietrus. Robinson and Davis are both in the last years of their contracts and would help clear $16 million off the payroll next summer, giving the Nets around $12 million in cap room for 2005 free agents.
It's also a slam dunk for the Warriors. GM Chris Mullin has been trying to turn around the culture of the Warriors – so far, to no avail. Adding Kidd changes everything. Remember what Kidd did with a young, underachieving team in New Jersey when he got there? Also, remember that Kidd is from the Bay Area and would be a huge draw for the Warriors.
The Warriors could put together a starting five – Kidd, Jason Richardson, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Adonal Foyle – that could make some noise in the West and permanently dissolve the stench the Warriors have made over the past decade.
Against: The Warriors aren't on Kidd's short list of teams he's willing to play for. He's asked the Nets to trade him to a contender, and the Warriors don't qualify. That doesn't mean that Kidd would veto a trade to Golden State, but it would take some convincing.
It's also a major risk for the Warriors. If Kidd gets reinjured, they're screwed. Given the curse that has hung over the franchise the past decade, that doesn't sound far fetched.
Insider Verdict: This is a good deal for the Nets if they can get Kidd and the Warriors to agree. They get young players to develop in the backcourt, including one potential star in Pietrus. They also get the cap room to go out and pursue a decent four or five in free agency next summer. Factor in the three extra first-round picks they acquired this summer and the Nets have a great foundation to build on.
The deal: Andre Miller, Marcus Camby and Nikoloz Tskitishvili for Kidd and Mourning.
For: If the Nets were to decide that rebuilding wasn't the way to go, the Nuggets could be an interesting option. They have a starting point guard, a starting center and a young seven-footer whose salaries match Kidd and Mourning's.
Does Martin hear the arrival of a trade bringing buddy Kidd to Denver?
A combo of Miller, Camby, Jefferson and Jason Collins could be a playoff team. If Camby could stay healthy and Skita could give them real minutes, it might be an improvement for the team. The Nets would still have issues at the two spot and the four, but they do have draft picks that could help lighten the load there.
Kidd would also be a godsend to the Nuggets. The team has struggled this season and needs a more vocal leader than Miller. They also want to run, and there's no better fast- break point guard than Kidd. Nene could immediately move into the starting center position with Mourning providing support off the bench. The only thing a trade like this doesn't address is that gaping hole at the two-guard position for the Nuggets. The team needs a shooter, and Kidd isn't it.
Against: Do the Nets just want to be average? It seems like this trade could propel to the Nets back into the playoffs, but how far would they really go? If the answer is anything other than the Finals, why not keep Kidd and have the same result?
If the Nuggets were to give up Nene as well, then you'd have to say that this was the best trade available for the Nets. But the Nuggets can't afford to do that. It would gut the team, leaving them too vulnerable in the middle. For the Nuggets to make a serious run in the West, they'd need either Nene or Camby. Unfortunately for the Nets, the deal doesn't work under the CBA if you substitute Nene for Camby.
Insider Verdict: Kidd would love to be reunited with the Kenyon Martin in Denver. He'd love to lob passes to Carmelo Anthony and Nene in the paint. In fact, the Nuggets, according to sources, are his first choice. But the trade makes no sense for the Nets without Nene in the deal, and from what I can gather, the Nuggets aren't budging on their refusal to include Nene in this trade.
The deal: Ray Allen, Luke Ridnour and Jerome James for Kidd and Mourning.
The other deal: Vitaly Potapenko, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nick Collison, Ridnour and James for Kidd and Mourning.
For: The first deal would give the Nets a bunch of coveted assets. Allen is still an All-Star and one of the top shooters in the league. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer, meaning there's a risk they could lose him, but it also means that the Nets are not stuck with him if things don't work out. Ridnour is a nice young point guard prospect who's shown major signs of improvement this year. James is a big guy who can play well when he plays hard. He's in the last year of his contract, which is where his real value lies.
Would Sonics' owner Howard Schultz want to break up his team's winning lineup to gamble on Kidd?
The deal would give the Sonics one of owner Howard Schultz's favorite players. It would give Nate McMillan the floor leader he's coveted since Gary Payton left town. It would also give them some help inside.
The second deal gives the Nets a couple young prospects in Radmanovic and Collison, and more cap room by including Potapenko, who is also in the last year of his contract. While they don't get a star of Allen's caliber, they do have more young pieces to work with here.
Deal 2 probably makes even more sense for the Sonics. They would be a little thin in the backcourt if they traded Allen away. But if they can keep him, the combo of Kidd, Allen and Rashard Lewis could be the most potent in the league. While the deal leaves the Sonics pretty thin up front, the truth is that of all the bigs heading to New Jersey, Radmanovic is the only one contributing to the team right now.
Against: Two things could really hold a deal like this up. First, Kidd did not include the Sonics on his list of teams he'd play for despite a strong relationship with Schultz. His goal is to win a championship and any way you slice it, it's tough to see how the Sonics win it all with the front line they have.
The second problem is that the Sonics are playing so well right now, they might be unwilling to take the risk on players like Kidd and Mourning. They both represent huge financial risks to a team that has been very risk free since Schultz took over. This might be too big of a gamble for them.
Insider Verdict: On paper, Option 2 is my favorite deal for the Nets. They get three young prospects in Ridnour, Radmanovic and Collison and still clear a ton of cap space. Realistically, however, I don't see it happening. Kidd's interest in the Sonics is minimal and Schultz doesn't seem brave enough to make this type of move.
Portland Trail Blazers
The deal: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Nick Van Exel and Sebastian Telfair for Kidd, Mourning and Aaron Williams.
For: The Nets could abandon the three-way trade talk all together and do a deal directly with the Blazers that would net them even more cap space.
A deal of Abdur-Rahim, Van Exel and Telfair for Kidd, Mourning and Williams would give the Nets a little more than $20 million in cap space next summer once Abdur-Rahim and Van Exel both come off the books. They could even afford to re-sign Abdur-Rahim and still make a major play in the free-agent market.
The deal would give the Blazers a player that could change the whole course of the franchise. The Blazers have been rudderless for years and would welcome Kidd's leadership. He'd be awesome running the floor with Darius Miles and Derek Anderson.
Against: Kidd has made it clear that the Blazers aren't on his list of places he wants to be traded. While Thorn could callously trade him there anyway, he probably would opt to just make the three-way deal with Portland and Minnesota.
Insider Verdict: I don't see it happening. The Blazers have been after Kidd for a while, but he won't return the love.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kidd originally had the Lakers atop his list of teams to play for, but it looks like it isn't going to happen anytime soon. To get a deal like this done, the Lakers would have to send Lamar Odom, Devean George and Chucky Atkins to the Nets for Kidd and Mourning. While that may be acceptable to the Lakers (though they'd take a huge hit in the rebounding department without Odom), it won't get it done for New Jersey. As much as they like Odom, he isn't enough to put them over the top. Why spend all that money when you aren't going to be a contender?
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs made a huge push for Kidd two summers ago, but their interest in him has cooled considerably. They just signed Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to huge free-agent contracts this summer, essentially killing any chance they have of making a deal. The only deal that would work under the cap for the Spurs would be something that sent Rasho Nesterovic, Malik Rose, Brent Barry and Bruce Bowen for Kidd and Mourning. Neither side would be willing to do that deal. Kidd knows now that he should've picked the Spurs over the Nets in the summer of 2003. But it's the Spurs that ended up better off because he didn't.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.