Trading a franchise player usually means getting back quarters on the dollar (or in the case of Memphis with Pau Gasol, nickels), but Nets president Rod Thorn comes close to getting equal value from the Mavericks for Jason Kidd. Call it a clinic on rebuilding a team on the fly.
For giving up Kidd, 34, a future Hall of Fame point guard, and reserve forward Malik Allen, New Jersey is receiving dynamic young point guard Devin Harris, shot-blocking center DeSagana Diop, swingmen Maurice Ager and Trenton Hassell, semiretired forward Keith Van Horn and two first-round picks.
Harris, who turns 25 on Feb. 27, has increased his scoring and assist totals in each of his four seasons. Coming out of the All-Star break, he was averaging 14.4 points and 5.3 assists in 39 games this season.
"Harris is the real thing," a Western Conference general manager said. "His speed is almost unmatched, and I think he's the best defensive point guard in the league."
Harris, who is signed through 2012-13, joins small forward Richard Jefferson (signed through 2010-11) and center Nenad Krstic (a free agent after the season who is expected to re-sign) in forming the new core of the Nets.
"Great teams are built around point guards and centers," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And Devin is going to be a tremendous point guard."
The Nets now have two months to determine whether Diop and Ager, each of whom is in the final year of his contract, fit into their long-term plans. Diop is an imposing physical presence who played 17 minutes a game in Dallas, and Ager is an athletic wing player who has seen little action since he was the No. 28 pick in the 2006 draft. Hassell, who is guaranteed $4.4 million next season, is expected to be bought out; Van Horn hasn't played since June 2006, but was signed by Dallas and included in the trade merely to make the numbers work per league rules (he'll be cut after the season).
The trade also clears around $11 million in cap space for New Jersey, which will use some of the savings to pay Krstic. The first-round picks, one in 2008 and one in 2010, will likely be low -- perennial contender Dallas hasn't drafted higher than 25th since 2001 -- but Thorn has proved adept at finding quality in the bottom half of the round: Krstic (at No. 24), center Josh Boone (23), point guard Marcus Williams (22) and power forward Sean Williams (17).
Kidd's departure ends a Nets era that began in 2001, when the All-Star point guard was acquired from Phoenix. He made them a fixture in the postseason and led the team to Eastern Conference championships in 2001-02 and 2002-03. New Jersey stood seventh in the East at the All-Star break, and it has been clear in recent years that the window for winning an NBA title was closing. Last season, though Kidd averaged a triple-double in the playoffs, the Nets were eliminated by the Cavaliers in the second round. This season they've had a nine-game losing streak and were 23-30 at the time of the trade.
"I don't think [the Nets] are done dealing," said the Western Conference GM, who expects New Jersey to step up its efforts to deal shooting guard Vince Carter before Thursday's trade deadline.
Carter is in the first season of a four-year, $61.8 million contract. If a trade can't be done quickly, the Nets almost certainly will shop him during the offseason. According to a league source, New Jersey has had conversations with Indiana about swapping Carter for Jermaine O'Neal.
The Nets' window of opportunity is opening again, and they have Kidd to thank for it.