Jason Kidd is not quite the player he once was.
His quickness and defensive ability are gone. His willingness to run a fast break-style of offense is fading. Kidd is hardly a point guard savant like he was in his prime years with Phoenix and New Jersey.
Yet, something about Kidd joining the Knicks feels very very right. Like it is the absolute right move for a New York team that does not seem to have direction outside of two high-priced, superstar players who demand the ball in their hands and a defensive ace.
Kidd is not like any of those players. While his age and his defensive liabilities may make many pause when they think about this move — Kidd has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $9 million deal — a point guard like Jason Kidd might be exactly what New York needs.
More than anything, he is a team-first guy with the ball in his hands. He will create and manage the offense for others. This might be the glue that holds the Amar’e Stoudemire/Carmelo Anthony experiment together.
Jason Kidd is not the panacea he might have been five years ago. The Jason Kidd who was a yearly MVP candidate with Phoenix and New Jersey is not walking through that door. Last year in Dallas was, by just about every measure, the worst of Kidd’s Hall-of-Fame-caliber career. Kidd averaged only 6.2 points per game and 5.5 assists per game. He shot 36.3 percent from the floor, his second straight year below 40 percent. Worse still for Kidd, he had his first season with an assist rate worse than 30 percent and posted a career-low 13.1 PER.
But something New York may need is exactly what Kidd can provide. Some stability and some management from the point guard position.
Kidd still has some legs underneath him and still has the savvy of a veteran. That is something the Knicks need to manage all the talent they have on their roster. It is no secret that Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony did not exactly work so well together in their first full season together. The Knicks had an offense that required pick and rolls and players who needed the ball in their hands to succeed.
After all, Stoudemire has had just two years in his career with a usage rate lower than 25 percent (coming in at 25.4 percent last year) and Anthony has had only two seasons with a usage rate lower than 30 percent — his first two. Anthony posted a usage rate of 31.8 percent last year.
This is where Kidd really comes in.
Kidd is not the driving, penetrating point guard he once was or is the rage in the NBA right now. Kidd is a cerebral guard who can break down defenses with pinpoint passing. That has not gone away with age.
He also is a veteran whom his teammates will respect and listen to. Kidd could be a brilliant general, pulling the strings between the two superstar players. Not only that, Kidd is an improved 3-point shooter (gone are the days of _ason Kidd). He should still be able to space the floor and help generate offense for a Knicks team that really struggled.
Jason Kidd is not the panacea to make the Knicks a contender in the Eastern Conference. Kidd is not the player he once was and is a humongous defensive liability. Tyson Chandler may have to have another Defensive Player of the Year-type season to protect Kidd from his defensive shortcomings.
It is still unclear how Kidd will fit in if the Knicks indeed match Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet from Houston. New York still has time to make that decision — three days after Lin actually signs the offer sheet.
Kidd though will add some much needed veteran poise at the point guard position for a Knicks team that has some hard-headed guys on the roster. Kidd could be the game manager, a quarterback distributing the options and picking the right spots to attack and where to put the ball. He certainly has the experience and clout to do so.
Only time will tell if Kidd gets Mike Woodson’s offense to take off in New York.