Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Kidd unwilling to be a Blazer
By Marc Stein
Jason Kidd still prefers a trade to staying with the New Jersey Nets, but if the Nets trade him to Portland, the All-Star guard will not report to the Trail Blazers, a source close to Kidd told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
Although such a move would almost certainly result in a suspension without pay, the source indicated Kidd is hoping his stand will discourage the Nets from trading the 31-year-old somewhere he doesn't want to go. Kidd's wish list includes the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Denver Nuggets, the Dallas Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers -- all destinations he prefers to Portland either because of each team's championship potential or geography ... or both.
The Blazers have shown more interest that most of those clubs, sources say, even though Kidd has made it clear he doesn't want to play for them.
While it appears that no trade is imminent, with Kidd having played only two games since returning from off-season knee surgery, Portland has focused on acquiring Kidd since cooling in its pursuit of Toronto's Vince Carter. The Blazers have at least two trade assets that are likely to tempt new Nets owner Bruce Ratner -- forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who's in the final year of his contract, and rookie point guard Sebastian Telfair.
Nets president Rod Thorn told reporters before Tuesday's game in Cleveland that his preference remains to hang onto the All-Star point guard who led New Jersey to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. "As far as I'm concerned," Thorn said, "I want to keep him."
Yet the call could eventually come from Ratner to move Kidd, who earns $14.8 million this season and then has four additional seasons left on the six-year, $103 million contract he received from Ratner's predecessors in the summer of 2003.
Sources say Ratner's Portland counterpart Paul Allen, meanwhile, is searching for a big name who can bring fans back to the Rose Garden, where crowds have started to dwindle. The Blazers have flirted with a trade for Carter, but talks with the Raptors have dissolved.
The possibility remains that Portland could join Minnesota in a three-way trade that would land Kidd with the Timberwolves and his pal Kevin Garnett. Wolves owner Glen Taylor has apparently not ruled out the possibility of adding Kidd's contract to a payroll already carrying Garnett's nine-figure deal.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.