View Full Version : GM's say kidd and Duncan not JO or brand.

06-04-2003, 10:15 AM
Survey says: Kidd-Duncan duo would be devastating

By Marc Stein

Editor's note: New season, new Stein Line. Now, Marc Stein's NBA report can be found every weekday during the playoffs.
SAN ANTONIO -- It actually goes back to his first summer in the Alamo City, and Tony Parker remembers it well. The little Frenchman was newly drafted, still months away from playing in his first real NBA game, when he heard about Le Grand Plan for the first time.

"They were talking about Jason Kidd in two years," Parker said.

They were talking about Kidd back then in San Antonio and they are talking about Kidd now, those two years having almost expired. In less than a month, after a little gathering known as the NBA Finals, the hometown Spurs will finally have the freedom to pursue Kidd in free agency, just as Tim Duncan has always dreamed.

Question is, at least to some folks down here: Should they?

It's a question Parker gets daily and answers graciously, insisting he is ready for whatever happens. Ready even if San Antonio wins the championship with Parker now and still decides it can't resist spending for Jason and moving Tony later.

"If the Spurs don't keep me," he said with his usual nonchalance, "... we find another team."

It's still a major if at this point, entering Wednesday's Game 1 of the Finals. The Spurs don't know if they even have a shot at prying Kidd away from New Jersey and the comforts of the easier Eastern Conference. The Spurs also don't know if they'd definitely want or need to part with Parker in the event Kidd is convinced to leave the outskirts of bustling Manhattan for sleepy South Texas.

So, for a twist, we put the question to a few detached NBA experts from other teams, guys who are unquestionably biased but more free (after insisting on anonymity) to weigh in on the debate. Representatives from the front office or bench from a handful of teams were asked to imagine having San Antonio's wondrous outlook -- as a team in the Finals with roughly $15 million in salary-cap room coming -- and then chart a course.

Jason Kidd, left, and Tim Duncan would be able to co-exist.
Would Kidd still be the guy to go after?

Even with a 21-year-old point guard already in place who might be winning a ring in two weeks?

"No question," one Western Conference general manage said.

"You would have to do that if you could," one Eastern Conference scout said.

"It's a no-brainer," one Western Conference coach said.

The question still gets asked so much in San Antonio because much of the rabid local fan base, so devoted to their Spurs, choose to show their support for Parker by loudly protesting the idea of bringing Kidd in. It seems as though a huge segment of the local citizenry favors the pursuit of a big man -- Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, or one of the following L.A. Clippers: Elton Brand (restricted free agent) or Michael Olowokandi (unrestricted) -- instead of another point guard. Expect select SBC Center customers to be holding anti-Kidd signs to back up their point, not stopping to consider that O'Neal or Brand might be even tougher to get than Kidd.

Of the officials from rival teams we tracked down on the eve of the Finals, the message from four of them, to the good citizens of San Antonio, was to trust the Spurs' management and its plan to chase Kidd.

The sentiment, by a 4-2 count: There's a good chance the Spurs won't be able to get Kidd, but, in their position, they have to try.

With a chance to sign Kidd outright?

With enough cap room to sign him and part with no core Spur on the current roster?

Western Conference general manager: "Kidd is the perfect point guard to play with Parker. I don't think they have to get rid of Tony. (Parker) can play the two-guard offensively and Kidd can guard every two in the league and a lot of (small forwards). Don't forget that Jason is also the most attractive player in the league to other free agents. Everyone wants to play with this guy. San Antonio can offer a shot at a ring, but it's a small market. Players don't have the endorsement opportunities there that they have in the big cities. With Jason Kidd, you're a player in the free-agent market in spite of those limitations because he's such a magnet."

Eastern Conference scout: "I understand that Parker is young; he's good now and he's going to get better. But his strength levels aren't going to change dramatically. Bigger guards will always be able to outmuscle him, and they can't do that to (Kidd). But the real difference is leadership. Tim Duncan is not a vocal leader and Jermaine O'Neal isn't going to come in here and drag guys to where they need to go. That's what Jason does. He would lead this team for years to come. He could do the things that Duncan doesn't like to do."

Western Conference coach: "If it's me, I go after Kidd with everything I've got and keep Speedy Claxton as my backup. You can trade Parker to get more size. Kidd is the No. 1 guy on the free-agent market by a long way over (O'Neal). He's so much better than anyone else out there. Look at what he's done in his career. Look what he's done with the Nets -- two trips to the Finals. I'm not so sure this Spurs team would be where it is if Chris Webber didn't get hurt and if the Lakers didn't have an off year. Duncan makes up for a lot (of the Spurs' shortcomings) but Kidd would make his life so much easier."

Eastern Conference scout: "Tony Parker is a nice player, but there's only one Jason Kidd out there. A lot of guys can throw the ball to people to get assists. Even (John) Stockton, as great as he is, got a lot of assists by throwing the ball to Karl Malone and letting Karl do his thing. Jason's passes lead directly to baskets. (Kidd's passes) put his teammates in position to score. And I don't buy all this stuff that Duncan wouldn't be able to run with him. The Nets run a lot, but they still have to run their (half-court) offense two-thirds of the time. You can always find other guys who can run. And I bet Duncan would love to play with him and finish the break for a few layups. I really don't think Jason is going to leave New Jersey, but I don't blame the Spurs for trying."

Parker devotees will be glad to hear that we did hear some dissent. Two of our experts surveyed said that they'd pursue alternatives to Kidd in free agency.

Of course, both did so with qualifiers.

What if Duncan gets hurt? What if he goes down for a month or two months or three months? Kidd isn't going to be able to carry that team in the West without another legit scorer. My opinion is that they should use the money to try to sign two players -- maybe a big guy like Brand and a small forward that can score.
An anonymous Western Conference scout

Western Conference scout: "Don't get me wrong. I love Jason Kidd. But my concern would be: What if Duncan gets hurt? What if he goes down for a month or two months or three months? Kidd isn't going to be able to carry that team in the West without another legit scorer. My opinion is that they should use the money to try to sign two players -- maybe a big guy like Brand and a small forward that can score. If they did that, they'd have so much depth and variety that they'd be set for like six or seven years. They'd have all kinds of good players coming off their bench. And if Parker is good enough to get them to the Finals now, he's only going to get better."

Eastern Conference general manager: "I would probably go after another big to help Duncan up front. I love Kidd, and I think he's the best point guard in the business, but you're talking about a team that's already there (at point guard) and needs help with another big. But that's from the outside looking in, and that's an important point."

Point being, most GMs don't like telling other teams how they should conduct themselves, at least not publicly. Which is why the respondents wanted anonymity.

The count is actually 5-2, though, when we include the sentiments of Dallas guard Nick Van Exel. The Mavericks were recently ousted by the Spurs, 4-2, in the Western Conference finals, and Van Exel was asked to imagine seeing San Antonio next spring with Don Nelson forced to come up with a game plan to stop Kidd and Duncan.

With Van Exel being asked to find openings in a perimeter defense featuring Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili and Kidd.

"I hope not," Van Exel said, his concern endorsing San Antonio's Kidd hunt in a different tone.

"That would be unbelievable."

As unbelievable to me as Spurs fans who say they don't like the idea, no matter what happens starting Wednesday night.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

06-04-2003, 12:28 PM
I'm not so sure this Spurs team would be where it is if Chris Webber didn't get hurt and if the Lakers didn't have an off year.
Dirk getting hurt had no effect I guess.

06-04-2003, 01:24 PM
It most certainly would be the most dominating combination in the league.

06-05-2003, 03:33 AM
The Strongest PG in the league along with arguably the strongest Post presence in the league outside an aging, fattening Shaq? At least one championship and probably more.