Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Kidd/Harris Trade

Two years removed from the Jason Kidd for Devin Harris trade and the Mavericks have to feel somewhat justified for their decision.

Sure, Harris played like an all-star last year, but managed to play in only 69 games and the Nets failed to make the playoffs largely because he missed those 13 games. This year, he’s already missed ten and the Nets have been historically horrific (0-18). In fact, the 26-year-old Harris has averaged 69 games per season in his five seasons, with a high of 80 games, only 61 of them as a starter. Which brings into question how Harris, who relies on his athleticism and speed, will age going forward seeing as how he has already proven to be frail in his youth.

Furthermore, while Harris made the all-star team last season, his numbers were boosted by an incredible November in which he averaged 26 points and 6.5 assists on 48 percent shooting and an equally impressive February where he averaged 25.7 points and 7.1 assists on 46 percent. He also had a horrible January where he averaged 16.6 points and 6.4 assists on 39 percent as well as a miserable close to the season with 12.3 and 5.7 averages on 41 percent. This season? His numbers look a lot closer to his January/April than his November/February at 15.6 points and 5.4 assists on 36 percent. I know he’s coming back from injury, but that’s the point.

Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Kidd has missed seven games total over the past four seasons and while he’s no longer a hall-of-fame caliber point guard, Kidd has transformed himself into a valuable asset and key cog on a Dallas team that is currently leading its division. And while Kidd’s numbers have taken a hit due to age and a decline in athleticism, he’s managed to make himself better in other areas. Kidd has the highest true shooting percentage of his career (.592) and it isn’t even close (last year at .550 was his second highest). More specifically, his three-point (48) and freethrow (90) shooting are both career highs. And it’s not like he forgot how to do what he does best. Kidd is a very close fourth in the league in assists at 9 per game.

While there is every possibility that Harris will remain an all-star level talent, being injured doesn’t help the Mavs who are in win-now mode. The Mavs don’t make a surprising run to the playoffs last year with Harris sidelined for 13 games. Likewise, they don’t lead the Southwest division this year with Harris missing ten.

There were, of course, other variables involved in the trade, though none of them matter all that much. Antoine Wright and Trenton Hassell are pretty much semi-decent defensive players who offer little else, DeSagana Diop is an overpaid (thanks to the Mavs laughable five-year, $31-million contract) third string center, Malik Allen is a bench warmer and Mo Ager isn’t in the league right now.

As for the two first rounders Dallas gave up, the Nets turned one of them into Ryan Anderson who turned into basically Courtney Lee. The other we’ll have to wait and see during this upcoming draft, though, because of how well the Mavs are playing, it won’t be a high pick. A Harris and Lee backcourt could be formidable, even if they are a bit undersized. But the duo has to remain healthy. Lee’s already missed seven games this year as well.

Even with Kidd at an advanced age, going forward, the Mavs have already found their point guard of the future in Rodrigue Beaubois. At 21 years of age, he’s putting up very similar numbers to Harris’s rookie campaign. Of course, Beaubois has something Harris didn’t when he was a 21-year-old rookie—the unique ability to learn from and develop under one of the greatest point guards to ever play in the Association.

Yeah, the guy the Mavs traded Harris for…

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