Decision time for Kidd

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

He is a Kidd in name only, his game showing signs of decline in a market where the economic signs aren't encouraging.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has to decide on the fate of Jason Kidd, whose second go-round in Big D ended in big disappointment.

Cuban has erred in the past when it comes to addressing the all-important position at point guard.

He could have tied up Steve Nash, but Cuban wasn't willing to give Captain Canada a long-term commitment because the owner deemed that Nash wasn't worthy.

Cuban had a young explosive point guard in Devin Harris but traded Harris and draft picks to New Jersey last year for Kidd, who broke into the league in Dallas.

In the wake of Dallas' playoff exit against the Denver Nuggets, many questions are being asked, which is predictable when teams get eliminated.

Of all the areas that need to be addressed, the most pressing and problematic involves Kidd.

Kidd is a free agent this summer and no one knows for sure what market awaits players such as Kidd.

No one is kidding themselves in believing Kidd is the elite player he once was when he simply took over games without taking a single shot.

Making shots has always been Kidd's Achilles heel, but his competitive fire and ability to get the ball to the right guy at precisely the right spot on the floor have always separated him from his peers.

Under no circumstance will Kidd earn the roughly $21 million US he made this past season, which made him the third-highest paid player in the NBA.

Money isn't exactly an issue with the deep-pocketed Cuban.

Kidd has never struck anyone associated with the game as being driven by money.

His career, which will one day involve enshrinement into the Hall of Fame, remains incomplete because Kidd has never won an NBA title, despite two appearances in the championship showcase.

Once he is able to separate the emotions from the business, Kidd may end up deciding that the best option is to go to a team that has the best chance of winning a title.

The Mavs are entering a critical stage in their history.

Dirk Nowitzki, a first-team NBA all-star, who averaged 34.4 points against the Nuggets, can opt out of his deal next summer.

As one might expect, Mavs players have nothing but praise when it comes to Kidd.

"Jason Kidd is still a great player,'' Jason Terry, the league's top sixth man, said. "We all want him back, but he's free. He can go wherever he wants to go."

As reporters gathered in Denver following Dallas' elimination late Wednesday night, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle was asked to comment on his floor general.

"It's hard for me to put into words what he does for our team and how he makes us better," Carlisle said of Kidd.

"He does so many things to make us a better team and I've made that known throughout the organization."

The ball appears to be in Cuban's court, but Kidd will have a lot to say.

That's the beauty of free agency when it applies to a veteran such as Kidd, whose legacy will be validated with a championship ring.

Depending on what Dallas does this summer, Kidd may decide that it's in his best interest to move on.

Nuggets of truth

Maybe now people will give Denver its proper due.

The Nuggets will play in the Western final with a legitimate chance of advancing to the NBA final.

Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony are playing at such a high level that Denver's dynamic duo will present problems for any team.

The Nuggets have won 16 in a row at home and have an air of confidence only a playoff-proven player such as Billups can provide.

"These guys are legitimate, a legitimate championship-calibre team," Carlisle said. "They've got a great shot."

Coaches are inclined to praise the enemy once they are vanquished, but Carlisle's words ring true.

The Nuggets are a very exciting team. Their identity, among most fans, is offence, but the Nuggets can defend.

Also overlooked is Denver's versatility and depth.


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