Commentary

Trade Vinsanity? That's the next big idea in Jersey

Originally Published: February 19, 2008
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

Vince CarterDavid Dow/NBAE via Getty ImagesVince Carter's "half-man, half-amazing" highwire act is halfway out the door, as the Nets look to rebuild.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With the Jason Kidd trade finally, mercifully out of the way, the New Jersey Nets were moving forward Tuesday in their efforts to trade Vince Carter.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that talks with the Indiana Pacers regarding a Carter-for-Jermaine O'Neal swap were dormant, but not dead, after the Nets spent nearly a week devoting their attention to the Kidd deal with Dallas.

Another source said there had been preliminary discussions on a three-way trade that would include, among other things, Carter going to the New York Knicks, Eddy Curry to Miami and the expiring contracts of Jason Williams and Ricky Davis to New Jersey.

Speaking with writers at the team's headquarters Tuesday, Thorn was asked if the continued delays in the Kidd trade -- first agreed to last Wednesday but not completed until Tuesday -- had impacted him on other trade fronts.

"Maybe it did in one other thing we were having discussions about," Thorn conceded.

Thorn returned to his office Tuesday after enduring a four-hour flight delay in Atlanta while returning from All-Star Weekend. It was in one of the waiting lounges at Hartsfield International Airport where he spoke on his cell phone with Dallas owner Mark Cuban at 7 p.m. Sunday night and finalized the final details of the tortuous deal sending Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen to Dallas for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, two first-round draft picks, Maurice Ager, Trenton Hassell and Keith Van Horn.

Dallas surrendered first-round picks in 2008 and 2010, although the Mavericks will keep their 2008 pick and surrender picks in 2009 and 2011 if they fail to make the playoffs this season. There is no protection on the 2010 (or 2011) first-round pick, Thorn said.

Rod Thorn
Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty ImagesLet's hope New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorn's cell phone plan allows for unlimited minutes.

Thorn also said there were "no conditions whatsoever" on Van Horn's inclusion in the trade, but he said Van Horn would report to New Jersey.

Sources who spoke to Thorn in New Orleans said he is committed to the idea of moving Carter, although the remaining three-plus years of Carter's four-year, $62 million contract is a significant obstacle. And there are questions about whether owner Bruce Ratner's approval would be guaranteed if Thorn were able to work out a trade.

The Knicks have discussed several Carter trade possibilities with the Nets, including, in December, one scenario that the Knicks turned down because it would have cost them Jamal Crawford. (The teams have not made a trade with each other since 1981, when Mike Woodson went to the Nets from the Knicks.)

Thorn disputed the premise when asked if the Kidd trade was a concession that the Nets were in "rebuilding" mode. But there was no denying that the move to acquire Harris is one of the first long-term moves aimed at transforming the roster by the time the franchise moves to Brooklyn in 2010 or 2011. Harris is under contract for five more years.

"The reality of it is we were not a championship contender this year. The reality is there are a lot more teams capable of doing that than us," Thorn said.

Thorn lauded Kidd, though he indicated the organization made up its mind to trade Kidd after what was widely regarded as a one-day strike in December when the point guard called in sick with a migraine headache.

"Over the course of time it became evident that Jason's heart wasn't in it, and with him especially, if his heart's not in it, he's not the same player," Thorn said.

Thorn also insisted that although Kidd asked to be traded to a contender, he would have dealt him to a non-contending team if he had received a better offer.

"But when you talk about a player of that age, and with the size of that contract, right away you can eliminate about 20 teams," noted Thorn.

Sources with knowledge of the Pacers-Nets trade discussions said the Nets were not concerned with the medical condition of O'Neal, who has not played since Jan. 16 due to soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. O'Neal is not expected to be in the lineup for Indiana on Wednesday night against Cleveland.

A big factor in any Pacers-Nets trade would be the question of whether the Pacers would be willing to take on the remainder of Carter's contract, or if they would be able to move him elsewhere in a three-way deal that would bring back expiring contracts, a young big man and a draft pick. O'Neal said publicly last summer that he'd welcome a trade to New Jersey, and his stance is not believed to have changed.

Executives around the league said there was an unusually high level of trade discussions as the clock wound down to Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trading deadline. One source said the Denver Nuggets were making "a harder push" in their efforts to acquire Ron Artest from the Kings, although it was unclear if that meant they were now willing to include Linas Kleiza or were re-exploring the possibility of trading Nene to Sacramento.

"The time it really heats up is Tuesday through Thursday," said Thorn, who will be fueling plenty of that heat himself between now and 3 p.m. Thursday.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.