Jason Kidd’s announced retirement from the NBA rocked the league Monday, as it loses one of its last great, pure point guards. The reverberations of Kidd’s retirement will be felt by the New York Knicks and the NBA as well, now and in the future.
Kidd’s departure opens the door for the Knicks to consider reacquiring Chicago Bulls free agent guard Nate Robinson, an explosive athlete who provides the kind of offensive dynamism that New York desperately needs.
The Knicks could also acquire a young point guard with its 24th pick in this month’s NBA Draft, which is considered one of the weakest — from a talent standpoint — in recent memory.
Larkin and Jackson are diminutive guards who possess terrific athleticism and playmaking ability. Wolters and Brown have excellent size, with the former being touted as highly skilled and instinctive and the latter depicted as a talented athlete and defender.
As a single player, Kidd possessed all of those attributes.
The late 1990’s and early 2000’s, when Kidd gave the NBA his best years, seemed forever ago. The NBA’s second all-time leader in assists was a relentless and cerebral playmaker; he was also a terrifying defender and remarkable rebounder – perhaps, the modern era’s answer to Oscar Robinson in that he was a triple-double machine (he is third all-time in that category).
In the early part of his career, he was a dreadful outside shooter, but as his career progressed, he became a capable long range marksman.
As a first time Knick this past season, he showed that knack. In the first two months of the season he shot 44.3 percent from three-point range before cooling off considerably and finishing at a 35 percent clip. There was also that 10-game scoreless streak that marred his postseason and the Knicks chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Regardless, his ability to elevate those players around him without scoring a point remained and the impact was palpable for the Knicks. The 19-year veteran had a calming effect on volatile players such as J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert.
At his advanced age, he remained a stout defender, leading his team in the overall Defensive Rating category for players involved in 50 games or more. He also led his team in advanced metrics that measure defensive efficiency like Defensive Win Shares and Steal Percentage, further proof of the 40-year-old’s efficacy on the court.
Kidd was as cerebral and multi-dimensional as they came, and the NBA may not see another playmaker of his kind for years. At present the NBA is stocked with scoring guards posing as point guards, who prioritize scoring over facilitation.
Surely, the Knicks will be hard pressed to find a player in his early twenties who could bring what the ‘old-head’ Kidd brought to them.
The only replacement capable and worthy enough to fill Kidd’s shoes would be Chris Paul. But that’s for another day. For Knicks fans, that might even be for another life.
Kidd brought his talents to us in this lifetime. And for that, fans should be grateful.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a New York Knicks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+