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Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2003

Kidd might stick around San Antonio

Spurs eyeing free agent as dull series nears end

June 15, 2003

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— Jason Kidd was due to arrive here at 3:45 p.m. Saturday.

He may return to New Jersey after Game 6 tonight, or he could stay through Wednesday night if the Nets force a Game 7.

Or, he might just stick around for six years.

"I thought I played a pretty good game if that was my last game here. We'll see," Kidd, who will be a free agent this summer, said after Game 5 Friday night in New Jersey.

As Kidd spoke those words from the interview-room podium shortly before midnight, his 4-year-old son, T.J., fidgeted on his lap.

T.J. was sending signals.

He yawned several times, much like the basketball viewing public is doing during these NBA Finals.

He leaned on his dad, much like the Nets are doing.

He looked as though he wanted to get out of there, and his old man might want the same thing.

New Jersey's Jason Kidd, left, and Kenyon Martin watch as San
Antonio celebrates a 93-83 win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The
Spurs won the game Friday in East Rutherford, N.J.

New Jersey's Jason Kidd, left, and Kenyon Martin watch as San Antonio celebrates a 93-83 win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Spurs won the game Friday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Kidd is about to finish his second season with the Nets, who acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in a trade for Stephon Marbury.

All season, Kidd has tried to deflect questions about his future by saying he'll wait until the summer to decide. But there have been clues along the way, such as at All-Star weekend when he publicly expressed his intrigue concerning the possibility of joining the Spurs -- one of the few teams who will have enough salary-cap space to offer him a maximum-salary contract.

The season could end for the Nets tonight, thrusting them into a month of uncertainty as they await Kidd's decision. He cannot sign anywhere until July 16.

The Nets are certain to make Kidd the best offer they can. He is finishing his ninth season in the league and will be eligible for a six-year contract with a starting salary equal to 30 percent of the salary cap.

New Jersey can offer Kidd annual raises of 12.5 percent, while the Spurs can only offer him 10 percent raises. But Texas does not have a state income tax, so the overall money would be about the same.

Kidd has said he would choose the place that gave him the best chance to win a title.

The task ahead for the Nets is a daunting one. Since the NBA switched to a 2-3-2 finals format in 1985, no team has won Games 6 and 7 on the road.

In playoff history, the team that won Game 5 after a series was tied 2-2 has gone on to win 83 percent of the time. In the finals, that success rate is 73 percent (16 of 22).

"It's not impossible, the situation we're in," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "Now when you talk about must-wins, this is a must-win."

To get that must-win, the Nets will need better performances from Kidd, Kenyon Martin and several of their role players.

Martin, fighting the flu, had a dreadful Game 5 with four points, five fouls and eight turnovers -- four of them in the fourth quarter. Kidd was not credited with a shot attempt in the fourth quarter, scoring three points from the foul line -- the last one after the outcome had already been decided.

Reserve guard Lucious Harris received extended playing time but shot just 1-for-7. Dikembe Mutombo played seven inconsequential minutes, Rodney Rogers went 0-for-3 with a turnover in five minutes and Kerry Kittles made only three shots in 34 minutes.

Game 5 reversed the series-long trend of declining point totals, with the Spurs' 93 points marking only the second time one of the teams has broken 90.

"We had a little celebration on the bench when we got to 90. We were really excited. It was almost like 120 points, the way this series has been going," Spurs forward Malik Rose said.

One more big one remains, or perhaps two.

Depends a lot on what Kidd does tonight, which in turn might impact what he does this summer -- if he hasn't secretly made up his mind already.

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