Source: Stackhouse can be in Kidd trade, but can't go back

Updated: February 15, 2008, 10:18 PM ET
By Chris Broussard | ESPN The Magazine

The chances of Jason Kidd wearing a Dallas Mavericks uniform this season are shrinking by the day.

First, Devean George refused to consent to the trade to New Jersey. Now, according to a league source, the league will not allow the Mavericks to bring back Jerry Stackhouse if he is traded and subsequently waived by the New Jersey Nets.

According to one league source, the NBA has already made one of the teams aware of its position.

"The league has taken Stackhouse out of the deal," the source said. "They said, 'He can be in the trade, but he can't go back to Dallas after that.' "

But the league denied involvement, claiming that any issue regarding Stackhouse was moot because George blocked the trade to begin with.

"We are not investigating whether there was a prearranged deal between the Nets, Mavs and Stackhouse at this point,'' NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said.

The willingness of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to include Stackhouse in the trade was based on his knowledge that New Jersey would immediately buy him out of his contract, which would allow Stackhouse to re-sign with Dallas after 30 days.

It was Stackhouse's brazen response to the potential trade on Wednesday that first put the league on notice.

"I get 30 days to rest, then I'll be right back,'' Stackhouse told The Associated Press on Wednesday in response to the proposed trade. "I ain't going nowhere."

Neither apparently is George. Mark Bartelstein, George's agent, said this afternoon that his client is no longer thinking of rescinding his decision. George's refusal is based on the fact that a trade would cost him his "early Bird rights" and therefore the bulk of his leverage as a free agent this summer.

"Anything is possible, but as of now, it's not something Devean's considering," Bartelstein said.

The Mavericks, whose locker room could be in shambles if the Kidd deal doesn't go through, are desperately seeking other alternatives. They are looking at replacing Stackhouse and George in the trade with Trenton Hassell and Keith Van Horn.

But a person with knowledge of the talks said the Nets are leery of taking Hassell because he has two seasons, worth a total of $8.6 million, remaining on his contract after this season.

The source added that while other teams, most notably Cleveland and Denver, are pursuing Kidd, there is no other "realistic" destination out there, and that Kidd would most likely remain with the Nets if nothing can be worked out with Dallas.

The 30-day rule was added to the league's collective bargaining agreement as a response to a trade between Boston and Atlanta in 2005. In that deal, Boston sent Gary Payton to Atlanta to reacquire Antoine Walker with the understanding that the Hawks would immediately waive Payton, who then re-signed with Boston three days later.

The league frowned on this move, and instituted the 30-day rule. By flouting the rule so publicly, Stackhouse may have given the league no choice but to eliminate him from the deal or prevent the Mavericks from re-signing him.

"If Stackhouse had kept quiet, the league would not have been able to prove anything," a Western Conference executive said.

The executive added that team owners have been calling commissioner David Stern to complain about the Stackhouse part of the deal, and that several GMs would have been incensed if he had allowed the trade -- and subsequent return of Stackhouse to Dallas -- to go through.

"Every GM from a potential playoff team in the Western Conference is complaining about this,'' the executive said. "If the league allows this trade to go through, it'll have a major credibility issue on its hands. Our collective bargaining agreement's not worth anything if this goes through.''

Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.