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“We’re always a better basketball team when he’s our facilitator on the court, and he’s getting guys in different positions and leading the offense, and helping us in our flow game,” Carlisle said. “When we’ve got to call plays, I’ll call them once in a while, but he’s great at that, too. The more he can do it, the better our team plays.”

Nowitzki sure likes having him around, and that’s reason enough to value Kidd.

Nowitzki pushed for Dallas to acquire Kidd at the trade deadline in 2008, even though it meant giving up young, improving Devin Harris. It wasn’t clear who got the better of that deal as the Mavs won a single playoff series in Kidd’s first three postseasons.

This run to the finals should end that debate.

“It just took a while to really come into his own here,” Nowitzki said.

Kidd is under contract for one more season. However, with a lockout looming, there might not be a 2011-12 season. Thus, there’s a chance this series could be it for his career.

He sure hopes that’s not the case _ not after the way the last two months have gone, and as big of a role as he’s had in that success.

“I would love to continue to keep playing if I feel the way I do now,” he said. “I feel great. I know I’m not going to be playing 35 minutes a night. I still have a lot to give back to the game. … I love the competition no matter at what age. And I’m a big fan of the game. Seeing these young guys play at the level that they are, I just wish I was 22, 23 years old so I can handle the game the way they do.”

Perhaps. But none of those kids are doing what they do in the NBA finals, at least not this year.