|Trade gives Mavs, Kidd chance to have a better ending|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 19 February 2008 14:55|
The Dallas Mavericks are sick of their own ugly endings. Maybe they and Kidd can script a better finish this time around.
That's what the Mavs are banking on after bringing Kidd back to his original team on Tuesday, landing the All-Star point guard in a deal that sent five players, two first-round picks and cash to New Jersey.
``We feel this inches us a little closer,'' Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
Nets coach Lawrence Frank calls Kidd a first ballot Hall of Famer, though not many of those get traded three times. But Kidd has left his previous organizations little choice when his personal problems started to outweigh his professional performance.
That started back in Dallas, where he was Rookie of the Year 13 years ago as part of a young core with Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson that seemed destined for greatness. But Kidd's feud with Jackson wrecked that, so the Mavs dealt Kidd to Phoenix, where he said he began to mature as an NBA player.
``When you talk about the first time around, the average age was probably 22, 23 years old, so we were one of the youngest teams, and when I left I went to one of the oldest teams,'' Kidd said of that Suns squad, naming players such as Kevin Johnson and Danny Manning.
``Those guys had been in the league and they showed me how to win. The big thing was just to understand how to win a game with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter, not shying away from that time. Wanting the ball, make or miss being involved in the play to help the team win.''
No team has ever handled that as ineptly as Dallas did two years ago. The Mavs were closing in on a 3-0 lead over Miami in the NBA finals, holding a 13-point advantage, but blew that and dropped the next three games to waste their chance at a first title.
The Mavs never got that close last year following a collapse that was every bit as spectacular. They won 67 games in the regular season but managed only two in the first round against eighth-seeded Golden State in perhaps the greatest upset in postseason history.
But with a move that clearly shows they are trying to win now, the Mavs are admitting that they were prone to another meltdown without doing something different.
``We really have also looked at our team since I took over, we looked at all three different years of playoffs and how we finished the regular season and playoffs, and we feel his skill set can help us hopefully finish the season stronger, finish games better,'' Johnson said. ``And hopefully do a better job of closing out some series.
``He's going to help us because at the end of games he just knows how to win. He knows how to finish games and that's what we're looking for.''
Unfortunately for the Nets, they weren't seeing it as much anymore.
Kidd was unhappy New Jersey wouldn't extend his contract and stopped believing in the mix of talent the Nets surrounded him with, so he asked to be traded. And though Frank would never say it, it became noticeable around the organization that Kidd wasn't playing with the same passion he always did.
So the Nets dealt him, the same way Dallas and Phoenix did after Kidd's off-the-court drama overshadowed his talents on it.
``Over the course of time it became very evident that his heart wasn't in it,'' Nets president Rod Thorn said. ``The kind of player he is, if his heart's not in it then he's not the same player, and it became evident to me that his heart wasn't in it anymore. It just wasn't going to work.''
But it might in Dallas. With MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard in the frontcourt and a solid bench, the Mavs were already a contender in the Western Conference. With Kidd, still an elite player even at 34 and a two-time NBA finalist who should regain his motivation, maybe now the Mavs have the mentality to match their talent.
``There's no better feeling, there's no bigger stage you can perform on when you do get to the finals,'' Kidd said. ``And there's no bigger reward than to have that championship trophy in that hand and the next season get that ring. That's why I'm here, because Dallas has its vision, its eye on that prize and that's to win the whole thing.''