Trade Spin: Jason Kidd to Dallas
Good for Jason Kidd. This is what he wanted, to escape New Jersey, where, at this time of year, there is bad weather, a bad smell (hey, you open those windows while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike) and, most importantly, a bad team. Now he is heading back to Dallas, with good weather, a good owner and a good team that certainly has a shot to win a championship. (I'm not really sure how Dallas smells, by the way, but I do sense a nice playoff run coming).
It took a lot longer than everyone expected -- we were originally breaking this down for fantasy, what, a week ago? -- the Mavericks are sending five players, picks and cash to the Nets for the rights to the NBA's No. 3 assist man, and nobody can fault them for it. They are the latest in a line of top Western Conference teams making bold moves. Only Devin Harris (now that Jerry Stackhouse worked his way out of the trade) was a key member of the team's nightly rotation, but Kidd is No. 15 on the ESPN Player Rater, and rest assured, nobody going to the Nets is ranked anywhere close to that. Fantasy owners expect Kidd to pile on the assists and rebound like a small forward, and he does that. Things shouldn't change very much out West, although Kidd should be happier now. He had two finishers, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter, averaging more than 20 points per game in New Jersey, and the same will hold true with his new team.
Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard currently are the main scorers in Mark Cuban's investment, and if anything, their production could rise a bit. Harris was leading the team in assists with 5.3 per game, and Kidd could double that by himself. Kidd is one of the top passers of this generation and gets the ball to the right places at the right times, and, of course, he can lead a fast break. His presence could reinvigorate Nowitzki, who is having his worst statistical season in four years.
Just know that if you are thinking of dealing the farm for Kidd in your fantasy league, changing uniforms won't change his shot. He is not a good shooter, in case you thought his .366 field goal percentage was a fluke. It's a bit low, even for him, but the best he has shot since 1999 is .414. So his percentage might increase a bit, but he's not Amare Stoudemire. Kidd contributes in 3s and ranks in the top 20 in steals, and for those who get extra points for triple-doubles, Kidd is your man. Those numbers shouldn't change much in Dallas, either.
Really, it's all good for the Mavericks. Harris was the starting point guard; Kidd replaces him. Jason Terry generally comes off the bench, and that should continue. Lest you think Terry's assists soon will drop, note that he was getting merely 3.3 per game. He's a shooter, and knows his role well.
Jose Juan Barea had been starting at point guard for Dallas with Harris out of the lineup with a left ankle bone bruise, and Brandon Bass has emerged as a productive frontcourt player. Barea heads back to the bench now, and the Mavs could opt to start Terry or Eddie Jones at the two-spot. Doesn't much matter, as Terry will get his minutes, and whatever time Jones does get, it's mainly irrelevant.
The players who are leaving Dallas shouldn't be missed too much. DeSagana Diop was a shot-blocking presence, leaving the team with only Erick Dampier to handle those chores, but one doesn't halt a trade like this over something like that. Dampier simply will need to step up, especially when Shaquille O'Neal is a potential playoff opponent. This might actually be a time to look at Dampier in fantasy, in those really deep leagues.
Nets fans shouldn't expect to see more than 20 minutes of Diop per night, especially with the recent revelations that Nenad Krstic is nearly ready to start playing major minutes. The additions of Trenton Hassell and Maurice Ager shouldn't add to Nets' season-ticket sales tomorrow. I wouldn't call any Mavericks (or Nets, for that matter) must-pickups because of any opportunities provided by this deal. Even Keith Van Horn. God bless him for coming out of retirement to make this trade mercifully happen, but he is not someone you need to look at in fantasy. Trust us.
In New Jersey, Jefferson and Carter are left behind for a 23-29 team that actually is the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. How proud the team must be. Harris was drafted from Wisconsin as a point guard and could emerge as a better fantasy player with more minutes and more assists, but there's no guarantee. The Nets, even with distributor Kidd, were No. 28 in the league in scoring. Dallas should get to the top 10 after this deal.
Harris' 5.3 assists per game (incidentally, easily a career best) won't cut it in fantasy. And it's not like Harris suddenly will score 20 points per night, either, not with Jefferson and Carter demanding shots. Harris' first problem is to get healthy; he is expected to be ready to play this week. His second problem will be becoming more of a natural playmaker and piling on the assists. Does he have it in him? Carter is averaging more than six assists per game, which could rise actually, and I don't expect Harris to all of a sudden start getting eight or nine per night. He's just not that type of player, yet. The Nets would also like to get a look at Marcus Williams, the second-year point from Connecticut who had 11 points and five assists in the team's recent game sans Kidd, but he won't play over Harris. He should see an increase in minutes, especially initially. Do not assume Harris becomes a fantastic fantasy option because of this trade. It's likely his numbers won't change much.
Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN.com fantasy games.