- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

With the New Jersey Nets now 18½ games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics and not too far removed from a nine-game losing streak, it’s time for management to follow the lead of the Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Heat.

They need to unload their superstar to try to improve. In other words, trade Jason Kidd. Give up already. As Kidd said, “move on.”

Minnesota parted ways with Kevin Garnett last summer, swapping him for three-fourths of Boston’s roster, including two draft picks. And so began the rebuilding process with former Celtics forward Al Jefferson as the centerpiece.

Just more than a week ago, Memphis parted with the franchise’s most successful player in Pau Gasol, sending him to the Lakers and freeing themselves of his gigantic salary.

Then last week, Miami — which has the worst record in the league — got a 325-pound, $60 million weight off its back, shipping Shaquille O’Neal to Phoenix.

Each of the above teams was struggling with its All-Stars; they couldn’t do much worse without them.

Jason Kidd is great. He’s a triple-double machine, one of the top three point guards in the league and a lock for the Hall of Fame.

But he has done as much as possible for the Nets. He led them to two straight Eastern Conference finals (2002, 2003), but those seasons feel like centuries ago.

The triumvirate of Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson has run its course. The Nets need scoring post players, and they need to get younger.

New Jersey just gave Carter a new contract last season, and he is owed $66.8 million over the next four seasons. Jefferson has another three years and $42.4 million left on his deal. But Kidd has only one year left on his contract and is due to earn $21.4 million next season.

Kidd, 34, has long been rumored to be on his way out of New Jersey. When earlier this season he missed a game with a migraine headache, the New York/New Jersey media reported Kidd used it as a trade-me protest. Kidd denied the reports and said he just took a paid sick day.

But last week Kidd, who has a league-leading 12 triple-doubles, finally made public his desire to be traded.

“It used to be if I got a triple-double, that was an automatic win,” Kidd told reporters. “That’s just not the case now. We tried to make this work. We’ve found out it doesn’t. It’s time for us all to move on.”

LeBron James is lobbying for the Cavaliers to make a move for Kidd, and the Mavericks began talking to the Nets after Kidd’s comments.

Reports said a three-team, seven-player deal in the works, with Portland being the other player. But the Mavericks, who supposedly were to part with Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse, Brandon Bass and/or DeSagana Diop, now reportedly are debating whether that’s too steep a price to pay.

And Nets management insists it will not part with Kidd for anything less than top quality. They’re content to head into the summer and then make a decision on Kidd.

But for what? This isn’t working. The Nets already have a talented young point guard riding the pine in Marcus Williams. They’re lacking in other areas.

New Jersey should reward Kidd for his years of service by sending the aging star to a team with a better chance of contending now and at the same time use his value to bring in some fresh talent and begin rebuilding now instead of waiting until fall.

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