Editor's Note: Front-Paged
This is part 2 of my series, Where do we go from here? The first post covered the JET, and because I do not believe he will be back, included a farewell message. Read it here. Part two kicks off with the old, crafty veteran, Jason Kidd. It's no coincidence that I started my series with the Jasons as they are the 2 most important pieces of the Mavs as we've known them over the past couple of seasons that are not likely to return. Does Kidd have a better chance than JET, and how will he perform with a new contract?
Jason Kidd is the hardest player on the Mavericks to evaluate. His impact on the game is not seen in the stats. The only 2 stats that matter for Kidd are his turnovers and his 3pt%. Everything else does not show up on the stat sheet. I know, I know, his assist are important too, but they do not accurately reflect Kidd's impact for a few reasons. 1) many of his "smart" passes are not actually assists. Kidd is the best at working with Dirk in the post. It doesn't matter how they defend Dirk. If they deny over the top, Kidd will dribble to the corner for a baseline entry. The resulting post-up is not an assist because Dirk takes his time to score. Likewise, he is very good at working the post and re-post with Dirk which establishes better positioning for Dirk. He usually gets no assist here either since Dirk will take his time in working the post-up. Most of our guards do not have the patience to get Dirk the ball like Kidd, which is very valuable, but does not have a stat to reflect its value. 2) Kidd is also very good about swinging the ball. Usually the pass will come to Kidd from the post-up, and he will swing it to the open-man, who then swings it to the next guy in the corner. This is called a "hockey assist," but does not count as an assist for Kidd. So as you can see, his assists totals are not that important, but rather his involvement with the ball and offense overall is what really matters, assist or no assist.
Kidd's other value offensively besides his passing is knocking down the open 3. He has to punish defenses from the weak-side for doubling Dirk, off of penetration from a Marion cut, or penetration from a guard off the pick and roll. If he isn't hitting, our offense grows stagnant. If he is on; however, our offense is unstoppable, since Dirk has support, and defenses then have to respect Kidd's spacing. His numbers since being a Maverick - 46%, 40%, 42%, 34%, 35%. If he is over 35%, then his spacing is generally a plus. Keep his shots per game numbers between1-3 and 2-5, and he will help a lot. If he is 1-4 or worse, he is generally hurting us by wasting possessions. Kidd had several 0-5 games last year, and that hurts our offense too much. I think his averages will stay around 35% (pure speculation on my part), and that this is not a red flag for a 2-year contract.
Kidd's defense can also be very valuable. He still has quick hands, and smart fundamentals. He may not be an elite stopper, but he is a plus defender unless he has to guard lightning quick point guards, which unfortunately, seem to be springing up all over the league. Kidd is best siuted cross-matching and guarding the opposing 2-guard. He can check all those well, save for Harden, Wade, and Bryant. He can compete with them well enough though to get by if we have a solid rim-protector behind him (see Tyson last year vs. Haywood this year). With Tyson, Kidd locked down Kobe, Durant/Westbrook, and Wade/James last playoffs. This year, Westbrook/Harden destroyed us. Even Fisher was able to drive the lane. Kidd isn't getting younger, but over 2 years, I don't think he will get much slower. His defense will be what it is for the next few years, solid but not spectacular as long as he can cross-match or zone.
My main concern for Kidd this year was his increase in turnovers. Even though his turnovers stayed at the same rate, it was the type of turnovers he committed as opposed to the number of turnovers. Kidd has always made risky passes that lead to turnovers, but now he seems to be turning the ball over on a pass to the wing, rather than a thread-the-needle-at-the-rim pass. At least in the second outcome, you have lay-up potential in a high risk/reward situation. There is no reward for the first turnover; just risk. He also lost the ball in his dribble against quicker points often. I don't know if he was just disengaged and careless, or if he is just slowly losing his handle. Either outcome is very concerning. Unfortunately, the why is unknowable, except by Kidd himself. Will it continue, or was it a blip year? It is a serious issue to consider upon re-signing.
After 18 years, Kidd's role is set. It will not matter where he plays, his game will not change. He is only interested in contending, and will probably command either a mini-mid level, or possibly a vet minimum contract. Teams interested are the Mavs, Knicks, maybe Magic if they keep Dwight, Brooklyn, Portland (if they build contending roster), Boston, and the Lakers. Everyone by now should know he wants to back up Deron, so who knows where he might end up. Not even Deron. If we sign Deron, then I won't mind having Kidd back at the vet minimum. If we have to pay a mid-level, I think that costs too much. I would prefer to develop Roddy in the back-up role regardless of Kidd's cost, and if we are paying $3m, I would rather sign Delonte or Courtney Lee than Kidd. Still, if he can bring Deron, and considering Dirk's and Carlisle's love for Kidd (not to mention Dirk's hilarious old man jokes), Kidd will likely be back if we sign Deron. Otherwise, Kidd will probably not want to come back, since we really won't be contending next year, and he will go to Brooklyn with Deron, LA with Deron, Portland with Deron, you get the point. I give Kidd a 45/55 shot of being back, since Deron can only be called 50/50, and there might be a slight chance we get Deron without Kidd (another 5%, just for the sake of pulling numbers out of thin air). So Kidd is in a wait and see mode, and that's where he will stay until later in the free agency period.