Jason Kidd officially retired from the NBA on Monday afternoon. The point guard spent 19 years as a pro and leaves the league near the top of several statistical categories. Kidd finished his career second all-time in total steals and assists and third in three-pointers made.
Kidd’s last season in the NBA was marked by inconsistency. In the first part of the season, he was a big contributor to the New York Knicks hot start. Once the calendar turned to 2013, however, the 40-year-old began to show his age. His field-goal percentage plummeted, and he became a nonfactor in the playoffs. The future Hall of Famer failed to score in his final 10 postseason games, and was benched in the second half of Games Five and Six against the Indiana Pacers.
With Kidd’s retirement, the Knicks lose a point guard that they were expecting to have on their roster for the next few seasons. His veteran leadership helped New York make the leap to a top contender in the Eastern Conference. The news of Kidd’s departure, though, could be a positive for the Knicks future plans, and their quest to acquire Chris Paul.
Before his announcement, the Knicks owed Kidd just over $3 million over the next two years. With his contract off the books, New York should have more flexibility in the 2013 offseason. The move isn’t enough to help the Knicks get under the salary cap and sign a major free agent. It could, however, help them get under the luxury tax threshold and acquire a free agent through a sign-and-trade deal.
Big men like Dwight Howard and Josh Smith will look to sign maximum salary contracts, but the best free agent point guard will be on the Knicks radar. There have been rumors that Paul has been looking to join the Knicks for years. Before Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, there were reports that New York tried to acquire the point guard in exchange for Amare Stoudemire. After LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat, rumors circulated that Paul made a toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, vowing to join his friend in New York, one day.
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Heading into the offseason, it didn’t look like the Knicks would even be allowed to try and acquire Paul, under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. With Kidd’s salary coming off the books, though, it at least increased the chances of the Knicks getting in the race to land Paul. The luxury tax threshold is projected to be $71.6 million, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. With their current roster, the Knicks payroll falls about $1 million below that number.
While the Knicks may be eligible to trade for Paul, it’s extremely unlikely that the Clippers would send him to New York. Los Angeles can offer Paul more money than any team and would only consider trading him if Paul refused to play for them. Furthermore, the Knicks wouldn’t be able to offer L.A. a very appealing package. Amare Stoudemire may have the most untradeable contract in the NBA and the Knicks aren’t looking to move Carmelo Anthony. That means Tyson Chandler would almost certainly have to be involved in order for a deal to get done under salary cap restrictions, and the Clippers may not be looking to add a big man, since they already have Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Before Kidd’s retirement, it seemed unlikely that the Knicks would even have a chance of trying to trade for Paul. Now, it looks like they might be allowed to explore acquiring the best point guard in the league. Still, the odds are remote that they will be able to pull off a deal.