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D-Day for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and the Nets

The Nets trade exception--a focal point in New Jersey's sign and trade with Portland for Shareef Abdur-Rahim--expires at midnight tonight, so today's the day the Nets will have to announce whether they want the talented forward or not. He's a good player in his prime, but the Nets are concerned about potential knee problems that turned up in his routine physical.

Jason Kidd, for one, tells Lenn Robbins of The New York Post that he wants to play with Abdur-Rahim:

Jason Kidd was the lead recruiter as the Nets wooed free agent Shareef Abdur-Rahim. And Abdur-Rahim wants to play with Kidd.

The question of whether the two Cal products will be NBA teammates remained uncertain yesterday, but must be answered by midnight tonight. That's when the Nets lose their $4.9 million trade exception, a key component of the sign-and-trade deal they worked out with the Trail Blazers for the 6-9 power forward.

"We're running out of time," Kidd said yesterday at Basketball City. "The one good thing is we've got to make a decision. I just hope it's the right decision."

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News also quotes Kidd, and passes along rumors that the Nets will approve the trade:

"We've still got a pretty good team (without Abdur-Rahim). But with Shareef, he helps us rebounding, he helps us in the (post) and also he can knock down the perimeter jump shot. And he is a good guy."

Good guy or not, the Nets are leery of signing a 28-year-old vet to a six-year, $38 million deal, if he ends up with an arthritic knee before his contract runs out. For almost a week, the Nets have sought the opinions of several doctors to help in their decision. They have until midnight tonight when their $4.9 million trade exception, part of the assets going to Portland, expires.

UPDATE: Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger has some insight into what is going through New Jersey President Rod Thorn's mind.

Throughout yesterday, Rod Thorn met with his staff to discuss the feasibility of completing the sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, which would give Abdur-Rahim a six-year, $38 million deal. At the heart of the discussion were testimonies from four doctors who reviewed the medical history of the free-agent forward's right knee.

Though Thorn didn't admit it yesterday, there was no unanimity in those reports. While some regarded the scar tissue revealed in last week's MRI as a red flag, others hedged. One suggested that while the knee theoretically could deteriorate, there was no guarantee it would happen, because Abdur-Rahim has played on that knee for nine years and obviously knows how to deal with pain given his extraordinary record for durability.

Thorn would say only that he found the reports "very enlightening," but he was still struggling with the decision into last night, and insisted he hadn't reached any conclusions.

"We have until midnight (tonight)," he concluded. "So sometime before now and then, we'll decide."