By Sean Hartnett
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There’s a lot of mileage on the 39-year-old knees of Jason Kidd, but even in the twilight of his career he still has plenty to offer to the New York Knicks.
Kidd agreed to a three-year, $9 million deal on Thursday that will be announced on July 11 when free-agent signings can officially take place.
Over the past decade, the Knicks have lacked a take-charge floor general, and that’s exactly what Kidd brings to the table. Kidd will command instant respect with his 18 years of experience and championship pedigree.
Kidd has what it takes to transform the Knicks from playoff-whipping boys into a team that can get out of the first round and do damage in the NBA Playoffs.
Since Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler came to town, talent hasn’t been an issue for the Knicks. The problem was getting everyone on the same page and pulling in the right direction.
Melo will put his ego aside and do whatever Kidd asks of him. Anthony doesn’t want to go down as a great statistical player, a compiler of statistics that has never won a championship. Melo doesn’t want his career to be branded with that label. He knows that Kidd is a proven winner and will allow Kidd to handle the ball and run the show.
Kidd can inject life into Stoudemire, who thrives in the pick-and-roll offense. Stoudemire often looked like a passenger last season while Anthony demanded the ball and took high volumes of shots. With Kidd conducting the Knicks’ orchestra, Stoudemire will have a purpose again.
He will be more involved and be able to cut to the hoop on the pick-and-roll, which the savvy Kidd executes with ease.
Stoudemire never had the opportunity to play with Kidd in Phoenix, as Kidd was traded to the New Jersey Nets in a deal that brought Stephon Marbury to the Suns a year before Stoudemire was drafted in 2002. Finally, Amar’e will get his chance to play with Kidd, a player who can get the best out of Stoudemire — similar to the way Steve Nash was able to in Phoenix.
Due to chronic knee injuries, Stoudemire isn’t the same caliber player he was during his years with the high-flying Suns, but Kidd will re-energize Amar’e.
Chandler and Kidd were big reasons why the Dallas Mavericks won the 2011 NBA championship over the Miami Heat. During the finals, Chandler was the force that shut down LeBron James.
Upon joining the Knicks, Chandler’s commitment to defense won over Knicks fans immediately. He became a Madison Square Garden favorite and took home the 2012 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in his first year in New York.
Kidd has always been an intelligent defender and capable rebounder. Adding Kidd to a Mike Woodson team with Chandler — not to mention standout defender Iman Shumpert — means that the Knicks really have something going on the defensive end.
Had the Knicks swung a sign-and-trade for Nash that sent Shumpert to the Suns, they would have lost a lot defensively. While Shumpert is renowned for his defensive attributes, he is also maturating offensively. Having Kidd around can only help him become a more confident, better-rounded offensive player.
Kidd will undoubtedly have a positive effect on Jeremy Lin, whom the Knicks will likely keep hold of. The Knicks have indicated they’re prepared to match the Houston Rockets’ four-year, $29 million offer sheet.
Before undergoing season-ending knee surgery, Lin proved to be more of a slasher to the basket than a true distributing point guard. While his play was electrifying and inspiring, the rawness in Lin’s game was apparent.
His 3.6 turnovers per game needs to be cut down, and Kidd can help mentor Lin toward becoming a more intelligent point guard who knows when to go the basket and when to find the open man. Lin and Kidd will share minutes, with Lin providing energy off the bench.
Nash would have been a very exciting addition, but Kidd makes more sense, fills more needs and is a better overall fit for the Knicks.
Kidd is going to bring a lot of respectability back to the Knicks, and will make their 2012-13 season one to remember rather than one to forget.
Knicks fans, will Kidd get the team pulling in the same direction and be a success story at age 39? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.