Links: Why Portland Needs Jason Kidd

by Lang Whitaker

• First of all, New York City is amazing. Sam and I just ran outside to the deli next door to get some coffee, and on the way back a man who appeared to be homeless approached us. I say “appeared to be” because he was very dirty, was missing most of his teeth, had long hair and a shaggy beard, and he was wearing an L.A. Rams winter coat. So either he was homeless or a hipster.

Anyway, the dude walks up and says, “Hey, do you guys know how much the new Blackberry costs?”

Sam and I looked at each other and then back to the guy, shocked at the question. “No idea,” I said.

“A few hundred dollars…” the man mumbled, then he turned and walked away.

Of all the questions he could have asked us, that was about the last thing I expected to hear from him. If he had asked us how much, say, an apartment costs, or maybe how much a shave and a haircut costs, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But the new Blackberry…wasn’t expecting that.

• I was watching the Hawks/Clips game late last night, and Wifey was dozing in and out next to me on the couch. At one point she watched for a second and then came with this:

WIFEY: Why doesn’t Skip To My Lou play so much anymore?

ME: Rafer Alston?

WIFEY: Skip To My Lou. He doesn’t play very much anymore, does he?

ME: Well, he’s not in the game. He plays on Houston, but he does play a good amount. Are you sure you mean Skip To My Lou? You mean Rafer?

WIFEY: I think so.

We were quiet for a second, and then it hit me.

ME: Do you mean Tyronn Lue?

WIFEY: Whatever. Yes.

• Now, to business…

To me, the question is not where is Jason Kidd going, but rather, where should Jason Kidd be going?

Because I have no idea where he’s going. I spoke to a few people who generally know about things like this today and yesterday, and they had no idea either. Dallas seems to be coming up a lot in media reports, but that doesn’t really make sense to me. Dallas runs a lot, but I can’t see Dirk running the floor like K-Mart or Sean Williams. More importantly, Dallas’s guards always talk about defense-first (never a strong suit of Kidd) and in the halfcourt offense the guards also seem to shoot a lot of outside jumpers (Terry and Harris combine for almost 7 three-point attempts a game), the other glaring flaw in Kidd’s game. Kidd will improve the players around him, surely, but I’m not sure he’d improve Dallas as a team. (Unless Mark Cuban hires Toni Braxton to sing the National Anthem in perpetuity.)

But there are a lot of teams who could use Jason Kidd right this second. But the team that could really use Kidd, more than any other team?

The Portland Trailblazers.

I know, the Blazers are hot without Kidd, but every time I watch Portland play and see them shuffle through their eight point guards, I wonder what they’d be like with a veteran running the team, someone who could free up Brandon Roy to play off the ball a little more and allow him to get more rest. (By the way, the other day I said something about how I always think Brandon Roy is too slight, and someone argued me up in the comments section. But did you see LeBron brushing Roy off like a gnat last night? I know Bron is superhuman and all, but still, Roy has to put on some muscle if he wants to improve.)

I don’t understand the argument that the Blazers shouldn’t break up this team. They’re going to radically change next season anyway when they add Greg Oden to the mix. Plus, if they don’t make any moves at all, as Henry Abbott pointed out, the Blazers will have 22 players on their roster this summer. So that’s ostensibly seven guys they could move and still be at the NBA roster limit. Plus, they have a lot of young, talented guys that the Nets should be interested in, and they have the big contracts of Raef LaFrentz and Darius Miles that expire next summer to throw in and help make a deal work.

One other thing working in Portland’s favor is that Travis Outlaw’s stock is at an all-time high. Outlaw works well with these Blazers, but he would be at best a fourth option with Aldridge, Oden and Roy next season. Even though he’s under contract through 2010 at an affordable $4 million a year, I wonder how readily he’ll accept playing a back-up role for all that time. And like running backs in football, swingmen who specialize in scoring are probably the easiest NBA commodity to find. Big guys and point guards, not so much, but scoring swingmen grow on trees in the D-League and overseas.

Jason Kidd for Travis Outlaw, Jarrett Jack, Channing Frye, Raef LaFrentz and the rights to Rudy Fernandez.

Portland basically gives up an entire starting five to get Kidd, but they could have a starting lineup next season of Kidd, Roy, Darius Miles, Aldridge and Oden, with a bench of Martell Webster, James Jones, Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez and Ghostface Przybilla. And they have a first rounder next year they could use to add someone like Kevin Love (says That team wouldn’t have a better chance at winning a title than the current Blazers?

(And I understand that Darius Miles is a huge question mark, but I think if put him out there with Kidd and tell him to run the floor, he’ll suddenly be a whole lot happier than he ever was before.)

Jersey, meanwhile, would have an influx of guys who can run, shoot and jump. Plus Raef LaFrentz. And their team will be young enough to listen to Larry Frank without tuning him out.

• Finally, if you haven’t seen this yet, you should check it out.