- Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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"It's done," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN.com via e-mail Tuesday afternoon. "J-Kidd is a Mav."
The trade of Kidd back to his original team is the second deal that the teams have hashed out since last Wednesday. Both teams had been operating under the assumption they finally had a binding agreement since Monday night, when Kidd was excused from the Nets' first practice after the All-Star break and immediately made plans to travel to Texas on Tuesday.
The Mavericks have scheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Perhaps no NBA swap has ever tested the never-done-until-it's-done maxim more than this one, but sources close to the process said the teams received formal league approval in a conference call that ended at roughly 12:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, after Keith Van Horn appeared to have clinched the deal Monday night with his highly anticipated sign-off.
The details: Kidd, forward Malik Allen and swingman Antoine Wright are sent to Dallas for 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, center DeSagana Diop, swingman Trenton Hassell, guard Maurice Ager, Van Horn via sign-and-trade, first-round draft picks this June and in 2010 and $3 million in cash. The teams originally planned to move Wright to Dallas in a separate transaction but were able to make the salary-cap math work in a single trade after the deal was reconfigured over the weekend.
"This trade provides us with immediate help, most notably with the acquisition of Devin Harris, who we consider one of the rising young point guards in the NBA," Nets president Rod Thorn said in a statement. "Harris' numbers have improved each of his four years in the league, and we feel that he has a significant upside. This trade also will give us two future first-round draft picks and will give us flexibility to improve our roster."
Thorn told The Associated Press that as the Nets struggled this season, Kidd lost some of the intensity that defines him as a player, making it imperative that the team trade him.
Thorn said he first noticed it in December, an indirect reference to an incident in which Kidd sat out a game against the New York Knicks with a migraine, a move some considered a one-day walkout to force a trade.
"Over the course of time it became very evident that his heart wasn't in it," Thorn said. "The kind of player he is, if his heart's not in it then he's not the same player, and it became evident to me that his heart wasn't in it anymore. It just wasn't going to work."
After a roller-coaster Sunday in which the teams believed they were on the verge of a done deal, yet again, sources said, Van Horn and his agent David Falk spent much of Monday giving assurances to NBA officials that the 32-year-old will make a genuine attempt to make a comeback with the Nets.
The Nets and Mavs had come away from All-Star Weekend with renewed fears that Van Horn wouldn't want to meet the league's stipulations for his inclusion or couldn't actually bring himself to leave his family and business interests in Colorado, according to sources.
Sources close to the process insist, however, that the league has not imposed any time requirements for staying with the Nets that Van Horn must meet to collect the full $4.3 million he's scheduled to receive for the rest of the season. Sources say Van Horn -- much like Aaron McKie in Memphis after the Pau Gasol trade to the Lakers on Feb. 1 -- merely had to convince the league office that he will indeed report to New Jersey and that he's serious about resuming his career after nearly two years out of the game.
It's believed that both the Mavericks and Nets also lobbied hard to contest what they feared for much of Monday to be stricter demands on the Van Horn portion of the deal. Both teams did so knowing that the league doesn't have an ironclad policy on such matters or any mention of this type of scenario in its current labor agreement.
League sources told ESPN.com last week that the Gasol trade would have been disallowed had McKie not reported to Memphis to make himself available to play for the Grizzlies.
NBA president of league and basketball operations Joel Litvin acknowledged Saturday in New Orleans that deciding whether to allow unofficially retired players like McKie and Van Horn to be added to a trade is judged on a "case-by-case" basis.
McKie might have been a different case anyway, since the Lakers had to extricate the 35-year-old from a coaching job in Philadelphia before signing and trading him as part of their package for Gasol. It's also inaccurate to suggest that Van Horn's career was ever over, as he and Falk have long maintained since the player's departure from the NBA after the 2006 Finals with Dallas that they considered it more of an open-ended break after playing for five teams in a span of five seasons. They always left open the possibility that the 6-foot-10 forward would return. In each of the past two offseasons, Van Horn has rebuffed considerable interest from free-agent suitors to enjoy his private life after a lucrative nine-year career.
"It's a very aberrational situation," Falk said earlier Monday, referring to the roller-coaster nature of the Kidd trade as well as the prospect of Van Horn coming out of retirement at 32 to save a trade that bails out two of his former teams.
"He's a man of very high integrity and a family man with a lot of responsibilities," Falk said.
The weekend's uncertainty surrounding Van Horn was the third major stumbling block to a deal whose status fluctuated wildly between imminent and going away since last Wednesday. That's when Dallas and New Jersey reached an agreement in principle on the original seven-player deal, only to have Devean George unexpectedly prevent the Mavericks from including him in the move, citing a little-known rule that prevents certain players with one-year contracts from being traded without their consent.
Eyebrow-raising comments from Jerry Stackhouse about returning to Dallas in 30 days after the trade went through then prompted the Mavericks to insist that Stackhouse be pulled out of the trade, requiring Dallas and New Jersey to make two major alterations.
The first step was the agreement between Dallas and New Jersey that Hassell would replace Stackhouse. The second step required Dallas to release rookie Nick Fazekas, which it did Tuesday to create a roster spot for Van Horn, and then sign and trade Van Horn in George's place. Van Horn is eligible for that maneuver because he never filed his retirement papers and because the Mavericks never renounced his rights.
As a result, Kidd, who will wear jersey No. 2, might be able to make his return to the Mavs as soon as Wednesday night in New Orleans.
Kidd shared NBA rookie of the year honors with Grant Hill in 1994-95 and left Dallas in acrimony less than two seasons later in a trade with Phoenix.
Thorn had nothing but compliments about Kidd and his time in New Jersey.
"Jason Kidd has been the best player to wear a Nets uniform during my current tenure with the Nets," said Thorn. "He was the toughest competitor with the fiercest will to win and he was the main component in the most successful period in the Nets NBA history. Jason is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the man most responsible for transforming the Nets into a high-quality NBA team. We wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors."
Nets coach Lawrence Frank echoed Thorn's view of Kidd.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime type of guy to play with and coach," Frank told The Associated Press, referring to Kidd. "He's had an unbelievable impact on everyone in this organization and we wish him nothing but the best."
Now Frank and the Nets can move on with several new pieces in place on their revamped roster.
"We were in a holding pattern for so long, now there's no more holding, no more waiting," Frank said. "You've got six or seven teams thirsting for the playoffs, and we're going to have to hit the ground running and adjust, and we're certainly capable of doing that."
Doing the deal this way to bring Kidd back after all these years will cost Cuban $11-plus million more this season than the maiden version of the trade that included George and Stackhouse, courtesy of payroll rises and luxury-tax costs. But it means that Dallas again has an elite-level point guard for the first time since the contentious departure of Steve Nash in the summer of 2004 and puts Kidd alongside Josh Howard, Jason Terry and reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki in one of the most impressive cores in the wilder-than-ever West.
The Mavs' most significant loss in the deal might prove to be Diop, who played a big role in their ride to the '06 Finals as half of a two-headed center tandem alongside Erick Dampier. This is an especially risky time to lose size in the West, after the Lakers landed Gasol and Phoenix's blockbuster move for Shaquille O'Neal. Dallas, though, simply couldn't pass on the chance to address its well-chronicled issues with mental toughness, confidence and floor leadership with one move after two of the most humbling playoff exits in league history.
Cuban sounded optimistic the trade will help the Mavs deep into the playoffs.
"We are excited to have Jason back," Cuban said. "He, Malik and Antoine add a new dimension to the Mavs that we hope will take us to the next level."
Although both Nowitzki and Kidd downplayed the trade talk during All-Star Weekend, sources say Nowitzki became even more tantalized by the idea of being teamed again with a point guard of Nash's caliber after his brief interactions with Kidd in New Orleans. Kidd, for his part, couldn't stop himself after Sunday's game from referring to Nowitzki as "my teammate" already.
But the bottom-line equation appeals to the Nets as well, even after all the complications. Thorn will be coming away with a highly regarded young Kidd successor in Harris, two expiring contracts (Diop and Van Horn) and two first-round picks. The deal for the Nets sounds like a pretty good haul for a point guard who turns 35 in March and whose recent public disclosure that he thought it was time for the Nets to trade him could have weakened Thorn's bargaining position.
"I have a new future to look forward to," Harris told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'm looking forward to having a little bit more control, a little bit more freedom over there. I love my teammates here, so it's mixed emotions, but I'm excited about the new challenge."
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jason Kidd is officially a Dallas Maverick. "It's done," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN.com via e-mail. "J-Kidd is a Mav."