For some, it may be difficult to fathom that 12 years have already gone by since Jason Kidd landed with the Nets through an offseason trade with the Suns, and that tonight, the franchise is honoring him by retiring his No. 5 uniform (video link via USA Today) in the rafters. Once he arrived in New Jersey in 2001, Kidd appeared more than ready for the revitalization process and leadership role on a team that had missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons prior to his arrival:
“(He) told the players, ‘I don’t care what went on here before. We will make the playoffs,’” recalled Rod Thorn, the team president who had made the trade. “Guys were looking at Jason like, ‘What the heck are you talking about?” (ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor).
The team would go on to win 52 games that season en route to two straight Finals appearances and six consecutive playoff berths. Though Kidd would ultimately fall short of leading the Nets to an NBA title as a player, he now takes on the opportunity of coaching a team with championship aspirations. How far he’ll lead Brooklyn this year remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Kidd could be in the midst of his most special chapter with the Nets’ franchise. Here are some of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:
- Newsday’s Roderick Boone found that Heat superstar LeBron James wouldn’t comment on whether or not the Nets could contend for a title along with the Heat. Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, had this to say: “(Brooklyn) they did what they said they were going to do. They want to compete for a championship” (Twitter links).
- Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com reports that Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum is now near his usual playing weight of 285 lbs and is inching closer to a return to the court.
- Earlier tonight, Cavs coach Mike Brown revealed that first overall pick Anthony Bennett has been dealing with asthma and sleep apnea (ESPN via the Associated Press). Though Brown says that the breathing issues are noticeable, it doesn’t appear that it’ll affect the way he tries to use Bennett in his rotation this season: “It’s been tiring to watch him because every time I watch him he’s (gasping)…It makes me tired, so I try not to look at him. I tell him, `If you need a sub, just tell me. Otherwise I’m not going to look at you.”
- Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum calls Joel Freeland his “training camp MVP,” while head coach Terry Stotts admits that the 6’11 center has had a good training camp thus far. Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes that Freeman’s quiet transition into a Nick Collison-type of player could produce an opportunity to find a spot in Stotts’ rotation.
- Nuggets coach Brian Shaw likes what he sees in Wilson Chandler, and team GM Tim Connelly was quick to name him as the most likely to have a breakout year: “He got here about two months ago. He’s in great shape. He’s got the right mindset. Playing for a guy like coach Shaw could really allow him to take that next step” (Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com).