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(this article is written assuming Dallas and NJ work out a new trade)
Now that Jason Kidd has been shipped out of New Jersey the first thing most fans will do is analyze what this trade means for both teams involved. Dallas gains an aging veteran who is arguably still the best point guard in the game. It is their answer to the Lakers acquiring Pau Gasol and Phoenix landing Shaq. New Jersey has lost its leader, the heart and sole of this team. They will enter a rebuilding mode that will most likely focus around Richard Jefferson and the draft picks they received as compensation for Kidd. Losing Kidd will hurt. Nets fans can expect a lot of blowout losses for the rest of this year as the team realizes they can’t go anywhere. At least with Kidd on the roster, making the playoffs meant having a shot.
When Jason Kidd came to New Jersey, the Nets were coming off a 26 win season. In his first year as Nets point guard, he led them to a 52 and 30 regular season record and an Eastern Conference championship. The lone negative was Kidd not being awarded the MVP honor he rightfully deserved. The Nets enjoyed their most success ever as a franchise with Kidd at the helm. However, Kidd being traded to Dallas was not a culmination of the teams poor play this season. In fact, Jason’s exit from New Jersey began years ago when the Nets began lacking obvious direction.
Injuries to Jefferson and Nenad Krstic in recent years and the lack of a motivated Vince Carter were just the final straw for a player who is at the end of his career and wants a shot at a championship. The real problem started at the end of the 03-04 season with the departure of Kenyon Martin. The move was heart breaking for the Nets at the time. Martin was a fierce player, a dominating defender and Kidd’s number one running mate. Looking back on the trade now, it would seem New Jersey got the better end of the deal with Martin having struggled with injuries since joining the Nuggets. What aren’t often looked at are the ramifications this trade had on the Nets. The trade for Vince Carter during that season was a direct result of deciding to sign and trade Kenyon Martin. It was a move to fill the stands and to bring in a highlight reel player they had lost by trading Martin. It was a move that stuck the Nets somewhere between rebuilding around a budding Richard Jefferson and reloading for another championship run.
Not to say that Carter is not a good player for the Nets but he is a different type than Martin. Carter is the type of player the Nets wanted Jefferson to be only with both of them there, it took longer for Richard to develop. Neither is the defender Martin was and the Nets never replaced the defensive presence they had in Martin. Sean Williams is supposed to be that type of player now.
Instead of sticking with the young, ferocious stopper, they traded for a high priced, older version of RJ. They could have traded Martin and stuck to the plan of rebuilding through the draft. By the time they were a contender again Kidd, although unhappy at the time, may have still been around. Now, four seasons later, they have no choice but to rebuild. Only this time, they won’t have number 5.