National Basketball Association fans in New Jersey and around the country are asking a question no one knows the answer to yet; Will superstar point guard Jason Kidd return to the Nets next season?
Kidd becomes a free agent on July 1, and says his decision is going to be based strictly on winning a championship. The Nets have lost in the NBA Finals the past two seasons. The San Antonio Spurs beat the Nets four games-to-two to win the best of seven series earlier this month, while the Los Angeles Lakers swept New Jersey out of the finals in four-straight games last year. Kidd says winning an NBA Championship will be the consideration in his decision.
"I put myself into this position due to my contract coming up, and so, I am very fortunate things have gone so well for me, to have this opportunity to make a decision to hopefully better my career and give me the best chance of winning a championship," he said.
The Nets had 26 wins and 56 losses the year before Kidd arrived, but they improved to a record of 101-63 in the two regular seasons that he led them to conference championships. Teammate Richard Jefferson really hopes Kidd will stay in New Jersey, but will accept his decision.
"He has meant everything to me. He is such a professional on and off the floor. You know, he has really given me kind of a foundation on how to be a professional," he said. "So, for him to come back would mean the world. But again, like I said, if he leaves, it is what is best for his family, and you cannot fault him."
Cleaning out his locker at the Nets' practice facility, perhaps for the last time last week, Kidd spoke of the loyalty he feels to his teammates and the satisfaction of helping the Nets become one of the NBA's top teams. He says he would like to stay with the Nets, but he also believes there are a lot of good teams he could help.
"There are a lot of good teams out there that I think I could help win a championship, but New Jersey is still my first choice, and so, we will give them every opportunity to get it done," he said. "And again, crazy things happen in this league; so you got to always keep the door open."
The San Antonio Spurs could be the only team with the money available to offer Kidd the kind of contract he wants. The Nets star earned $10-million this past season. The Nets will be able to pay him 30 percent of next year's salary cap to start, plus annual raises of 12.5 percent. The cap is expected to be somewhere between $36-40 million.