Friday, May 14, 2010
Updated: May 15, 2:51 PM ET
Kidd: Ailments didn't affect performance
By Jeff Caplan
Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd said illness and an indifference toward exit interviews prompted him to miss the team's final gathering after the disappointing first-round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
He also flatly disputed speculation that he didn't show up because he's at odds with coach Rick Carlisle.
In a phone interview Friday from his offseason home in Phoenix -- his first public comments since Game 4 of the six-game series -- Kidd said he played through a cold from the start of the series and also experienced back spasms. He stressed that neither affected his play to the point of altering how the series unfolded.
"It wasn't anything that was alarming," Kidd said of the back spasms. "I made it all the way to the end [of the season] without any significant bruises or bumps until the back being a little tight on me. But Casey [Smith, head athletic trainer], we did everything. The only thing that I had was a cold, I was a little bit under the weather, but that was it.
"I didn't make shots. As a team, we didn't make shots when we had to and San Antonio played better than us."
Kidd said he informed Smith and others after Game 6 that he didn't plan on attending the final-day team meeting. Carlisle said he did not have a problem with Kidd not attending.
"I've been in this league long enough to know that exit meetings are just about picking up your things and going home," Kidd said. "I was sick, and there was really nothing I could do. You know, sit there and say we lost? San Antonio beat us, that was it."
Kidd's statistics against the Spurs dropped noticeably from his regular-season production, although he managed to log 40.5 minutes a game. He played his best game in the series-opening win, scoring 13 points and dishing out 11 assists. For the series, he averaged 8.0 points on 30.4 percent shooting, and 7.0 assists.
The point guard called attempts to question his leadership and his relationship with Carlisle because of his absence from the final gathering nonsense. He said he's upbeat about the direction of the team, which he considered one of the best he's played on, and called Carlisle a "great coach" at the helm.
"The big thing is I didn't let anybody down. Everybody is going to have their opinion, but I think we were all disappointed the way the season ended and so I don't know what else I could do," Kidd said. "You look forward to next year and try to accomplish what everybody in that locker room wants to do, and that's win a championship. You look at that team and we were ripe to do something special and, again, you just have to tip your hat to San Antonio, they were the better team. Then you look at how Phoenix just walked right through them. That's basketball at its best right there."
Next season will be the 37-year-old Kidd's third full season with the Mavs and the second of his three-year, $25 million contract. How owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson restructure the roster through an important free-agency period that begins July 1 will be of high interest.
Kidd played with potential free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. He said he called James to wish him luck during Cleveland's Eastern Conference semifinal loss to Boston.
James wanted Cleveland management to make a play for Kidd before Dallas acquired him in a trade in February 2008. Kidd said he doubts he'll play a similar role as recruiter in an attempt to lure the Cavaliers' superstar to the Mavericks.
"I think Cuban, Donnie and Carlisle are putting a game plan together to see who they can go after," Kidd said. "All the teams would love to have LeBron, but there's only one team that gets him. The big thing is there's other players, too. Even if he stays in Cleveland, there's probably going to be a lot of movement."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.