By Marty Burns
February 19, 2008
Trade Analysis: Kidd traded for Harris, more
Jason Kidd -- PG
Malik Allen -- F
Antoine Wright -- G/F
Devin Harris -- PG
DeSagana Diop -- C
Trenton Hassell -- G/F
Keith Van Horn -- F
Maurice Ager -- G/F
Two first-round picks
To keep up with the Joneses, er, the Suns and Lakers. OK, maybe the Mavs didn't do this deal strictly as a response to those earlier blockbuster trades for Shaquille O'Neal (Phoenix) and Pau Gasol (L.A. Lakers). But it probably didn't hurt. Dallas wants to win an NBA title now, and it had to be killing owner Mark Cuban to watch his fellow Western Conference rivals load up. Now the Mavs have a legit answer in Kidd. Even at age 35 (in March), he remains one of the game's top point guards. His ability to run the break should provide another dimension to the Mavs' offense, while his defense (though in decline) and rebounding will be welcomed by coach Avery Johnson. Most important, Kidd will bring leadership and mental toughness. He should take a lot of pressure off Dirk Nowitzki in that area. While the Mavs aren't giving up as much depth in this revised version of the trade -- they retain Devean George and won't have to wait 30 days to re-sign Jerry Stackhouse -- the loss of Diop could be huge. Losing the 7-footer leaves Erick Dampier alone to battle the likes of Tim Duncan, Shaq and Gasol in the West. The Kidd era had run its course. The All-Star guard wanted out, and it didn't make sense to keep him around at $20 million next season. While Nets president Rod Thorn could have waited until after the season, he apparently decided this was a better deal than anything he was going to get at that time. Harris is definitely a rising star whose up-tempo game should mesh nicely with Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter (provided the Nets hold onto those two stars). Harris, who turns 25 on Feb. 27, is just entering his prime and already is signed to a reasonable long-term deal (five years, $42 million) that kicks in next season. His scoring and assist averages have increased in each of his four seasons (14.4 ppg and 5.3 apg in 2007-08). He will be a cornerstone of New Jersey's rebuilding effort. Diop, meanwhile, is a shot-blocker who can help kick-start a fast-paced attack (he's making $2.1 million in the last year of his deal). Dallas' two first-round draft picks, though not likely to be high, are assets Thorn can use in a future deal or to stockpile young talent.
Like the Suns with Shaq, the Mavs are taking a giant risk in an effort to win the title this year. The difference is that Kidd is in a lot better shape physically than Shaq. But if the Mavs don't win it all, Dallas fans (like their Phoenix counterparts) will always wonder, What if? For the Nets, it's a chance to rebuild on the fly. It might cost them a playoff berth this season, but in the long run it will probably be worth it.

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