Nets fans cheer Kidd despite request for trade

Updated: January 30, 2008, 8:53 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jason Kidd may want to leave New Jersey, but that desire apparently isn't shared by his fans.

Kidd was greeted by the usual loud cheers when he was introduced before Tuesday night's game against Milwaukee, a day after the All-Star point guard publicly demanded to be traded.

"We tried to make this work. We've found out it doesn't," Kidd told ESPN The Magazine on Monday. "It's time for us all to move on."

Kidd attended the team's morning shootaround but did not talk to reporters, and did not answer questions before the game. The slumping Nets had lost nine in a row, but Kidd had nine points, five rebounds and 11 assists as New Jersey beat Milwaukee 87-80 on Tuesday.

Afterward, Kidd mostly deflected questions about comments he made to ESPN The Magazine on Monday, though he said he appreciated the fans' reception.

"I've been here for seven years and I've given a lot to the Nets and New Jersey's given a lot back to me," he said. "For a comment to ruin everything we've had, I didn't think that was going to be the scenario."

Asked before the game whether he was disappointed that Kidd went public with his opinions, Nets coach Lawrence Frank said, "I don't personalize it. I'm more disappointed about where we are as a team right now. My job is to get us out of this hole that we've dug ourselves."

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Earlier Tuesday, Nets president Rod Thorn said he hadn't talked to Kidd since the remarks were published, and declined to discuss which teams have expressed an interest in the nine-time All-Star. He said he wouldn't be forced into making a deal.

"The reality is we're only looking to make deals that make sense for us," Thorn said. "If every time someone said, 'I want you to trade me,' you acquiesced, then you put yourself in a very vulnerable position because you have a revolving door."

Thorn added that with the development of second-year guard Marcus Williams as Kidd's backup, the Nets would "probably not" require a point guard to be part of a deal for Kidd.

"We feel Marcus Williams has a future here and in the league," he said.

Vince Carter didn't comment on Kidd's remarks except to say, "We still have a job to do, and he still comes out to play every night, and that's what's important."

There was no shortage of Kidd's No. 5 jerseys among the crowd at the Izod Center. Damian Joseph, 33, of Linden was wearing one of them and cast a vote against the Nets unloading the disgruntled superstar.

"They should keep him," he said. "He's still a good ballhandler. All it'll take is a few wins."

Trade speculation has followed Kidd since last February when the Nets were close to making a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In December, Kidd sat out a game against the New York Knicks with a migraine, a move suspected by some to be a one-day walkout to force a trade or new contract.

At a news conference, Kidd denied those were his motives, saying, "I am having one of my best seasons -- why would I want to be asked to be traded? And as a team, we are doing better than last year."

New Jersey was 9-10 at the time. Since then, the team has dropped 16 of 26 games to fall to 19-26.

Kidd is under contract through the end of next season and will make $19.7 million this year and $21.3 million next year.

Kidd was acquired in a trade with Phoenix in 2001 and led the Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. But his six-plus seasons have been tinged with off-court controversy.

His wife, Joumana, and their young son were subjected to taunts at Boston Garden in 2002 stemming from charges that he struck her in 2001 while playing for the Suns. Kidd was fined and underwent anger counseling.

Last year, both spouses filed restraining orders claiming physical abuse, and Joumana Kidd claimed in divorce papers that her husband cheated on her throughout their 10-year marriage.

In December, a 23-year-old model filed a lawsuit accusing Kidd of groping and threatening her at a Manhattan nightclub in October.

Those distractions have not affected Kidd on the court, according to Frank.

"One thing that is unique about Jason is his ability to separate anything else that goes on and, once he steps between those lines, give his best effort," Frank said. "He's proven that since he's been here as he's dealt with different things."

The Nets' lackluster play and Kidd's apparent dissatisfaction haven't stopped him from steadily moving up the NBA's all-time records lists.

He leads the league in triple-doubles this season with 11 and has 98 for his career, third behind Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. He passed Johnson for fourth place on the career list for rebounds by a guard earlier this month, and became the sixth player to reach 9,000 assists.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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