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by Mike Fisher    Tue, Jan 29, 2008, 08:38 am

I admit it. I’m tempted.

Devin Harris – having his finest season yet – will be off that crutch soon enough. Even without him, the Mavs rolled again on Monday, dominating the lowly Grizz,103-84,for their fourth straight victory. And, you know, it’s kinda cute watching JJB run around out there with all the grownups.

But now that Jason Kidd’s desire to depart New Jersey is official. …




  Kidd is now admitting to that he is giving up on the Nets because “we tried to make this work. We’ve found out it doesn’t. It’s time for us all to move on.’’

   That applies to a New Jersey club that is going nowhere. But take those same words, reflect on Dallas’ recent playoff failures, allow yourself a freshly-squeezed glass of cynicism, and see if they can’t also be draped over this franchise.

   The Mavs have tried to make this work.

   They’ve found out it doesn’t.

   It’s time for the Mavs to move on.

   OK, I don’t feel that way. Nor do they. Dallas is 31-13, with a roster, a management team and a system that has this franchise in position to be an annual title contender as long as Dirk Nowitzki’s ankles cooperate. Really, what’s not to like about these Mavs?

   Against Memphis, Josh Howard – obviously now a legit NBA Robin – scored 26 points, with six rebounds and four assists. (That’s nine assists in 24 hours for Our Reluctant Passer.) J-Ho, who has an outside shot at his second straight All-Star berth, is especially money out of the gate:

   Dirk Nowitzki – obviously now a justifiable MVP who will deserve some more votes again this year – hit 9-of-15 shots for 20 points and 11 rebounds. He’s scored at least 20 in every game this month, has 14 double-doubles, and is seemingly done serving as Avery Johnson’s guinea pig.

   The rebounding worked (a 47-33 edge), the 2 guards handled Miss Mike Miller and, like I say, that JJB is adorable!

   The defense is clicking, having survived back-to-back challenges against two of the top eight offensive clubs in the NBA and limiting them to table scraps. Denver only managed 85, Memphis only managed 84. … and heck, maybe on Thursday in Boston the Celtics will only score 83!

   Yet out there volunteering to walk the plank is Jason Kidd, 34, a future Hall-of-Famer who still is in a class matched only by. … who? Steve Nash and maybe Chris Paul?

    A year ago, the Lakers almost grabbed Kidd in exchange for Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown. So talks will be a reality. (The Nets exec likely in charge of soliciting offers is none other than Kiki Vandeweghe, who got his front-office start with the Mavs and remains friendly with Donnie and Cuban.)

   On the other hand, it’s worth nothing about all that Kidd-to-LA buzz is that IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. That’s where Mavs owner Mark Cuban left it with me a few weeks ago when he advised me to not waste too much time chasing Kidd-to-Dallas rumors.

   “No, Cuban told me on Dec. 14. “No talks. No talks because it’s not going to happen. They’re not going to trade him. Why spent a lot of time discussing something that won’t happen?’’

    What would’ve changed to legitimize’s claim that “Dallas and Denver already have reached out in the last week’’?

   Also ping-ponging around in my head: The recent words of Rick Barry, who said on these pages that if the Mavs acquire Kidd now, they will be a lottery team within two years.

   Is that necessary? Would that tradeoff be worth it? How much better would J-Kidd make the Mavs?

   First, let’s assume that Devin would be the centerpiece of such a swap. (We do so for a number of reasons: 1) It ain’t gonna be J-Ho. 2) Kidd and Devin can’t both be starters here. 3) NJ doesn’t want our junk, though the Jersey paper seems to think Devean, Stack and Diop are centerpieces, which seems simply ridiculous).  …

  No, it’d have to be Devin-for-Kidd. Which makes the debate Devin-VS.-Kidd.

   Dallas would be gaining a player who would immediately make Dirk and other Mavs exponentially better players. Kidd is the master of the drive-and-kick, a gifted pick-and-roll guy, and the sort of game-manager that Devin Harris aspires to be. The UberMan would suddenly lead the NBA is open shots from his sweet spots. He’s also an All-NBA-level defender who comes close to Devin in quickness and is 10 years of bench-pressing ahead in physicality. Even now, J-Kidd’s stats make him a premier triple-double threat.

   At the same time. …

   Even when Jason was a rookie with the Mavs, he experienced some. … well, problems with the ladies. Those problems continue. I wrote in this space a few days ago about my willingness to support the Cowboys’ absorbing of Pacman Jones, so I suppose I can cross my fingers that Jason keeps his misogyny zipped up. …

   Dallas would not be getting a superior shooter. Kidd’s ability to get to the rim is special, as is Devin’s. But Kidd is still a horribly erratic outside shooter. … yes, far more erratic than Devin, who is a better overall scorer.

   Kidd is also troubling to watch as his Nets career fizzles. His game is all about energy. But now that he’s a dissatisfied Net, he very much goes through the motions. It’s a classic case of Spoiled Brat-lete, and while Kidd in a new uni would certainly be re-invigorating. … the manner with which he conducts himself now is a character flaw.

   I tend to believe that our memories of Kidd as the co-Rookie of the Year in Dallas a decade-and-a-half ago might color the realities of today. … 14 YEARS later (!) Ah, 1996. A simpler time. A time when the Mavs thought Jim Cleamons could coach. A time when the Mavs thought Frank Zaccanelli could GM. A time when mindless fits of anger from those two (the way I heard it) let to the Mavs thinking Jason Kidd wasn’t worth keeping. …

   As the Mavs and Kidd are now being shoved into the same headlines, a sidebar issue: Let’s take a trip back in the pre-Internet Time Machine, courtesy of my man Richie Whitt, who was on the beat when we lost J-Kidd – AND Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer!

   That shouldn't have happened. And this time it won't happen.

   The Feb. 21 trade deadline is coming. Jason Kidd is not coming.

   But I admit it. I’m tempted.

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