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Let's get this out of the way first, because for some reason, it killed me:
It is time to break my code of silence. As everyone knows (or perhaps many people assumed), the Jason Kidd to Dallas trade is, as of today, February 19, 2008, official. Now that things are a done deal, it's time I sorted through my feelings on the matter, via this blog post.
I wasn't ready to delve into things until things were really really real. As I've mentioned, I'm not one to speculate, especially when it comes to trades. Only once things are signed, sealed and delivered will I feel comfortable espousing on the matter. I take the same mindset into analyzing my love life. However, in my love life, that makes me "cynical." In this particular instance it makes me "safe from having to opine on the merits of Devean George." Works for me.
When I first heard of the deal, it was imparted to me via text message as "Devin Harris and spare parts." I was midway through a liquid lunch on an empty stomach and a particularly nasty day, weather-wise. So reaction-wise I went with, "Are you kidding me?" There may have been an expletive in there somewhere. I'm not entirely certain. But then I got back to the office, drank a bunch of water, and started reading up. And let me tell you, first round draft picks change everything. I immediately started talking myself into Devin Harris. Halfway through that process, I called my mom and broke the news. She seemed as if she'd been resigned to seeing Kidd go since his trade demand. Really, I think we both were. I think we all were. Any fans who thought picking up Stromile Swift was going to change Kidd's mind, or change his feelings were completely kidding themselves. In fact, anyone who thought Kidd really had a migraine back in December was probably kidding themselves too. Let's be real here- it would all just be a little too coincidental, yeah?
So then, this is how it ends. And I find myself not in a state of panic, nor of depression. Not anger or bitterness. Just right to that stage of acceptance. Jason Kidd was beginning to be something of an emotional roller coaster. He showed he was not about The New Jersey Nets, but about Jason Kidd. And that's OK. It is not my place, nor the place of any Nets fan to begrudge Kidd his shot at a championship. Because I think we always knew it would be this way. Maybe because of the circumstances of his prior exit from Dallas, or of his exit from Phoenix, maybe because we saw his willingness to pout, be it understandably, when he didn't get his way firsthand when the Great K-Mart Debacle took place, or perhaps because of something else, Kidd's stay in the Swamp never felt permanent. I have owned many Nets replica jerseys over the years. (Some have been pret-ty embarrassing indeed...Shawn Bradley? Ed O'Bannon? Check, and check.). I have never bought, borrowed or desired a jersey with the #5 on the back. Jason Kidd saved this team. Jason Kidd carried this team. Jason Kidd led this team. But Jason Kidd never was this team.
So a fond farewell to you, Mr. Kidd. We thank and appreciate you for everything you did for this franchise. You rescued us from futility, from irrelevance, from being a laughingstock, and from Stephon Marbury. No one else could have done this, and we know this. So thank you. And I sincerely hope you get that championship ring, and that it finally makes you a happy man, who is less prone to throw baked goods.
While I'm doling out goodbyes, best wishes to Antoine Wright and Malik Allen. Wright busted his ass to be a player capable of contributing, and it showed, particularly on the defensive end. I still believe he can be a solid player somewhere. Maybe Dallas. Maybe not. But good luck to him. And Allen was the coolest pro athlete I've ever had the occasion to meet in person. Just a normal, friendly and funny guy. Also busted his ass on the court every night. I hope he can find a solid spot in a rotation before he gets too old. (I mean he is like...30.)
Now how about those new additions? I've fully talked myself into Devin Harris. He's young. He's long. He's fast. He plays great defense. And he's got a very decent shot. He's not a "game manager" like Kidd was; he never will be. But weren't Kidd's major talents being pretty much wasted by letting stupid Vince control the ball so often anyway? (Yes.) Potentially we're looking at increased production on offense. It's a stretch, yes. The things Kidd did to create shots for his teammates are immeasurable and irreplaceable. But Harris is one of the best young guards in the league, and getting better. He's 24. That's younger than me, for chrissakes. I think there is a lot of potential for him and RJ to make a very good team. And Vince will still do what Vince always does, regardless of who his point guard is, clearly. Add in the good young bigs, all 24-years-old and under, already on the roster - Boone and Sean Williams and Nenad, who is looking more and more like his old self - and you have a good young core (...and Vince). These guys can grow together. There are solid bench guys like Boki (if he doesn't get traded for Mike Miller...which, if it happens, we can talk about then, of course) and Marcus. One does have to wonder what bringing in a young point guard like Harris will do to Marcus Williams' somewhat sensitive self esteem...but I have high hopes (gee, what else is new) that he'll take it as a challenge and work himself into contending-for-a-starting-spot shape with the extra motivation. I guess we'll see.
As for Sagana Diop, I suppose we'll see. If he plays well, the Nets can re-sign him after the season. If not, peace, dude. I thought he looked good from what I saw of him last season, and clearly I love anyone whose name can be used in a Kriss Kross remake. But for some reason, he fell out of Avery's favor this season, so who knows? Again, I guess we'll see. One thing that is certain, however, is that w/ Diop on hand as well as Stro Swift, we can safely announce the death of the Jamaal Magloire Era in New Jersey. Failed experiment, I suppose.
Trenton Hassell I'd imagine will ride the pine, play some garbage time, possibly be used in future trades. His contract goes through '10 but there's an early termination option or something. I find him to be insignificant.
What about Maurice Ager? My roommate went to MSU and swears he's a young kid with a ton of athleticism and potential. He's surprised Mo has been ineffective in the pros, but you can possibly chalk that up to him being a victim of that Dallas iso-heavy system. Maybe we can get some useful minutes out of him. If nothing else, he can pick up some of the 'oop-slack now that Kidd is gone.
Of course I would be neglectful not to mention that it is now appropriate for me to rehang that framed Keith Van Horn poster I used to have on my wall in college, and the unframed autographed poster too, and to bust out the replica #44 again, and to dust off my homemade "HEY KEITH: TAKE IT TO THE HOLE" sign, and to pull up my knee-high socks.... I don't care if he never plays a minute (but please please please let him play several, PLEASE). My Keith has come home to me! For someone who never played up to the potential he had, just having his KVH presence, his good karma, his reminders of days past, days that were much, much worse, and days that got better...it's gonna feel good, at least for this Nets fan. Probably only this Nets fan. But I don't care. I am ready for this new era. And I am ready for Keith to usher it in, even if his role is merely a symbolic one.
Basically, the success of the New Jersey Nets...and, yes, of the Brooklyn Nets To Be Named Later...depends upon primarily one thing- the leadership of one Mr. Jefferson. I believe he can be a great leader. It is time for RJ to step up and back up all the talk and the behind-the-scenes "Vince isn't the man" chatter. His stats have been great this season. He's quietly becoming one of the best small forwards in the league. And now, this is his team. He's the vet with the heart, the drive, and the gumption to spread that heart, and that drive around the roster. Vince is not a leader. He won't try to be one. Someone will have to. I think RJ is up to it. And I think he's up to quietly telling the overly sensitive Vince to shut his mouth and know his role, as JKidd was never willing to do. I think Richard can absolutely flourish in a leadership role. Now that Kidd's gone, it has to be Jefferson. Time to shine, RJ. Your teammates believe in you. I believe in you. We believe in you. Don't give up on them, and don't give up on us. Because while players may eventually get frustrated and demand an exit, the fans will always be here.