Cuban, Mavs in hot pursuit of keeping Kidd

DALLAS (AP)—Mark Cuban wants to be first in line to talk to Jason Kidd.

Cuban posted Tuesday on Twitter, “Getting ready to fly up to NYC for Free Agent meeting at 12:01,” and that free agent is Kidd, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because NBA rules prevent commenting on such things.

Cuban has made it clear he wants to keep Kidd alongside Dirk Nowitzki on the Dallas Mavericks, but it might not be that easy.

The New York Knicks are believed to be interested, too. So could LeBron James’ Cavaliers or perhaps Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. Kidd has never won an NBA championship, but has won two Olympic gold medals, including one with James and Bryant just last year. Other teams also may be calling agent Jeff Schwartz.

ESPN.com first reported that Cuban’s New York trip is for Kidd.

Kidd made more than $21 million last season. At 36, he knows to expect a dip — but how much could be the big difference. Another likely factor will be the length of the contract.

The Lakers and Cavaliers might only offer a one-year deal, dangling their hopes of a title as incentive. Kidd would then be a free agent again in 2010, meaning he’d still have a chance for one last big payday.

“You would love to win a championship, but there are no guarantees,” Kidd said in mid-May, a day after the Mavericks’ season ended with a second-round loss to the Denver Nuggets. “You could pick the favorites for next year to win a championship and things could go sideways.”

So maybe he’d prefer big money now from a team already in contention. That could be Dallas, which might be willing to pay more than other teams to help maximize the prime of Nowitzki’s career and to avoid the problem of trying to replace him.

“I’m not looking at it as … hitching on a bandwagon and jumping on with a team that’s a favorite,” Kidd said. “I’m looking to help a team try to win a championship. Whether it’s here in Dallas or wherever it may be, I still feel that I have a lot to give to the game. I feel great, and I thought I had a pretty good season. As much as everybody talks about my age, I still feel like I can compete at a high level.”

The Knicks are early in a rebuilding phase, but are hoping to speed things up by signing James in 2010. Having Kidd play for them this season, even if only on a one-year deal, could help their recruitment of James next summer.

Kidd played 81 games last season, averaging 9 points, 8.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game. Dallas won 50 games, then cruised by San Antonio in the first round of playoffs before getting stopped by Denver.

Kidd said he “would love to be back” with the Mavericks. He also said he believes he has three good years left. He’s already played 15 seasons, racking up the third-most assists in NBA history.


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