After playing just one season of a three-year deal he signed with the New York Knicks, sure-fire Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd has called it a career after 19 seasons. Believe it or not, Knicks fans should be praising the basketball gods that he has chosen to step away from the game.
In a career that saw him win a championship ring and make 10 All-Star teams, Kidd retires with career marks of 12.6 points and 8.7 assists per game, not to mention 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. In the latter years of his fruitful career, he garnered a reputation as a solid three-point shooter and excellent on-ball defender.
On the whole, that very much sums up Kidd’s lone season with the Knicks. In 76 games, 48 of which he started, Kidd averaged six points and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 35 percent from downtown. He had a knack for making key three-pointers, and his experience and leadership abilities proved welcome on a team that featured youngsters like Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland.
But Knicks fans should still be dancing in the streets regarding Kidd’s retirement, and here’s why. When the playoffs rolled around, the man choked. Over New York’s 12 playoff games, he posted 0.9 points in 20.6 minutes per game, shooting just 12 percent from the field and 18 percent from long range. When his team needed him, he was not there to answer the bell.
This leaves New York with one point guard on the roster in 28-year-old Raymond Felton, as 36-year-old rookie Pablo Prigioni‘s future with the team remains unclear. With the 40-year-old Kidd out of the picture, this puts GM Glen Grunwald in an excellent position. This year’s NBA draft, in which New York has the no. 24 pick in the first round, has a number of young point guards who would be a good fit for the Knicks.
There’s the explosive Isaiah Canaan, as well as a hot-shooting guard out of Miami in Shane Larkin. For all we know, one of these two, or any other guard in the draft, could be the second coming of Kidd. So long as Grunwald picks intelligently, the Knicks’ future looks bright.
That all being said, losing Kidd’s leadership is not at all a bad thing. His best years are behind him, and his retirement will prove to help the Knicks take the next step forward. With some dead weight gone, the possibilities are endless as to how far the team can go.