Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kidd already feeling comfortable

Jason Kidd’s first practice is in the books. The late-afternoon workout Tuesday – pushed back because of the eight-player trade and subsequent press conference – gave Kidd, Malik Allen and Antoine Wright a crash course in Mavericks basketball.

“It’s kind of like your first day of school or first day of training camp, just trying to catch on,” Kidd said. “We have 29 games left, so most of the guys were great in helping us new guys with the plays. Coach explained it extremely well, so we’ll do some studying tonight and see how our first test goes tomorrow.”

Kidd will be in the starting lineup Wednesday night at New Orleans as the Mavs get back to business. The All-Star break was a “weird” time for the team and those publicly involved in trade talks over the last week.

Getting back on the court was a welcome sight, even if the first practice back usually doesn’t go so great. Considering the circumstances and having three new players to integrate, Avery Johnson was all smiles.

“More than anything, the energy was great,” he said. “We had some really, really positive energy. And guys ran hard. We didn’t make every shot and we didn’t complete every pass, but guys really ran hard and the new guys, they all, for the most part, just know how to play.

“Even though we have some different calls than what they had in Jersey, they were able to catch on pretty fast. Even though we didn’t give them the whole playbook, we hope actually to cut down on some of our plays. It was a good first day.”

The day was also bittersweet, with Devin Harris, Gana Diop, Moe Ager and Trenton Hassell shipped to New Jersey.

“I’m excited the whole deal is finally done,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We got so far and deep into it there was really no way back. It’s definitely a great day, but it’s a sad day to see those teammates go. I’ll always consider Gana as one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had in my career. I love Devin, so it’s tough to see those guys go.”

Josh Howard echoed those sentiments: “I’m going to miss Devin. He’s one of my best teammates, as well as Gana and Moe. It’s sad to see them go, but it’s a business. We picked up a helluva player in Jason. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to getting out on the court with him tomorrow.”

Having one of the best decision-making and mentally-tough point guards in the game should lead to easier baskets across the board and pick up the tempo. Nowitzki couldn’t help but flashback to Steve Nash when talking about Kidd.

“With me playing with Nash for so many years, some of the passes you just took for granted,” Nowitzki said. “Over the last couple years, those looks just weren’t there. It’s going to be great to get the ball when you’re open in the right situation. He’s one of the best at doing that.”

Howard has become a capable jump shooter over the last couple years, but even he salivates at the thought of Kidd lobbing it up at the rim.

“It’s something I did in college,” Howard said. “Hopefully, I still got it.”

Kidd, Allen and Wright went over the team’s offensive and defensive sets with player development coach Popeye Jones on Tuesday morning’s flight from New Jersey. Kidd doesn’t expect a long transition.

“I’m comfortable already, so it’s just a matter of me getting familiar with some of the guys, knowing where they like to catch the ball, helping them understand that the ball is coming at some point and then go from there,” he said.

Has he noticed any tendencies from his new teammates?

“The only tendency that I know Dirk has is he can shoot it,” Kidd said with a smile. “If he doesn’t have the ball, he can’t shoot it. Josh is a great talent. He can get his own shot at any time, so can Dirk.”

The Hornets, led by a pair of All-Stars in Chris Paul and David West, are leading the Southwest Division and Western Conference. New Orleans and Dallas have split two meetings this season,

“We’re going to be walking into a buzz saw,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have to play. Some things are going to have to come together pretty quick between now and tomorrow night at 7 o’clock.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The timing on this trade could be perfect. If (and it's a big IF) the chemistry is right, then this team could be getting a boost of energy right when you want your team to start their crescendo to the playoffs which is right after the all-star break.