By John Schmeelk
» More Columns
Jason Kidd isn’t Steve Nash, not even close, but he was the second best option for the Knicks. In what must have been a surprise to Knicks fans who have been used to players spurning them at the last moment, Jason Kidd decided not to return to Dallas and instead join the New York Knicks.
Jason Kidd doesn’t have enough left to be a true difference maker on the court at age 39, but his off the court skills is what can really help the Knicks become a better team. Since Chauncey Billups was amnestied last season, the Knicks were missing a true leader. They had no one that could control the offense or Carmelo Anthony. Other than Tyson Chandler, they had no one that really knew how to win. Enter Jason Kidd.
The Knicks have the talent but they were missing that piece or two that would bring it all together, and Jason Kidd could be that guy. He has always been one of the most unselfish players in the game and doesn’t care at all about the number of shots he gets. He has been to three finals and has a ring. If there is anyone not named Steve Nash to help teach Carmelo Anthony how to be a winning player it is Jason Kidd.
He can also mentor Jeremy Lin. Despite the Houston Rockets offer sheet and their supposed poison pill, the Knicks will being Jeremy Lin back. A little more luxury tax in 2014 is not going to stop James Dolan from bringing back one of the most popular players on the planet that makes him oodles of money. The Knicks will already be over the cap in 2014, so the signing will not affect the team’s cap flexibility.
The Knicks success next season rests on three things. The first is continued progress from Jeremy Lin into a good starting point guard. Kidd helps that. The second is Carmelo’s maturation into a winner. Kidd can help with that. The third is Stoudemire’s return to an All Star caliber player. Having a veteran point guard like Kidd can only help that as well. Though not the defender he used to be, Kidd won’t hurt the team on that end of the floor or on the boards. He’s also big enough to defend shooting guards if he and Lin are in the backcourt together.
It’s unclear at this point whether the Knicks were able to get Kidd in a sign and trade or if they had to use their mini mid level exception. If it’s a sign and trade situation, the Knicks can the use their exception on someone like Marcus Camby or a backup shooting guard since Landry Fields won’t be returning.
The bottom line is that the Knicks lost out on their number one option in Steve Nash, but they got the next best thing in Jason Kidd without trading Iman Shumpert. Kidd will be a fine back-up point guard, but he’ll be far more important turning Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony into players with a championship mindset. That’s just as important to the Knicks as anything Kidd can add on a basketball court.
I’ll continue to provide coverage of NBA free agency on Twitter; follow me @Schmeelk.