The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Jason Kidd back in the saddle for upcoming season

Mavs guard ready to settle in with team

Change isn’t always a bad thing. But for a professional basketball player, frequent change can be pretty stressful.

Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd has gone through quite a bit of changes – more specifically, coaching changes – in the last seven months, and the nine-time NBA All-Star is ready to settle into the 2008-2009 season with the Mavericks.

The team began training camp Monday at SMU’s Crum Center, with an emphasis on fast break offense and movement away from the ball. First-year head coach Rick Carlisle is a defensive mastermind and preaches hustle, and he went after it in his first practice.

“It was not an easy practice,” said Carlisle. “But these guys are ready to go. They’ve worked hard this summer.”

Players left the court with sweat pouring down their faces – Dirk Nowitzki needed ice bags for his knees – but Kidd showed relatively little emotion after practice. After the whirlwind he’s been through in 2008, it’ll take more than a few down-and-backs to get his focus off the upcoming season.

“I’m excited for coach,” said Kidd. “Coach Carlisle has had a lot of success in this league … The team has caught on to his philosophy, like moving after you throw a pass and not just standing around.”

Kidd has played for three different teams and four coaches in 2008 alone. The roller coaster started last February when he was traded to Dallas from the New Jersey Nets, in exchange for former first-round pick Devin Harris and a host of other Mavericks.

Mavericks ownership hoped the trade would inject life into the team, which was enduring a mediocre season and taking criticism from restless fans. However, things didn’t get much better with Kidd leading the offense. Nowitzki got injured late in the season and the offense never clicked, which led to the Mavericks’ first round playoff exit.

Head coach Avery Johnson, the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year, suffered the brunt of the fallout when he was fired the day after the Mavericks’ season ended, and Carlisle took the reins two weeks later.

Meanwhile, Kidd was focusing his attention on the Olympics and adapting to head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching style. Kidd averaged only 1.2 points per game, but his role as a team captain was to be more of a mentor.

“Young guys like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Chris Bosh were raving about the experience of being with Jason [on the USA basketball team],” said Carlisle. “He’s one of those players that is a basketball computer. He reacts and sees things before they happen.”

The “Redeem Team,” as they were known throughout the media, blitzed through most of their opponents on their way to the gold medal. Kidd hopes that he can carry lessons learned on the courts in China to his team in Dallas.

“It was a great experience to have the opportunity to play with the best in the world,” said Kidd. “As a team, you’re a lot stronger than an individual trying to score 20 points in a night. As a player, you have to sacrifice a little of your individual strengths so the team can win.”

Kidd, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, has started more than 1,000 games in his NBA career and averages 14.2 points, 9.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds. He led the New Jersey Nets to the NBA finals in 2002 and 2003.

Kidd has the benefit of getting to know his team during training camp this year. Last season, he joined the team midway through the season and had to learn on the fly.

Kidd did well statistically, averaging 9.9 points, 9.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds in 29 games, but the team sputtered to a 16-13 regular-season finish and was ousted in the playoffs by the New Orleans Hornets.

Aside from the coaching change, the team added four free agents to the roster, which is 19 players deep for training camp. Carlisle said free agent additions Gerald Greene and Antoine Wright are “potentially long-term pieces” on the team’s roster.

The Mavericks are loaded at guard, with Kidd, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and former all-star Josh Howard. In the post, Nowitzki, DeSagna Diop, Erick Dampier and Brandon Bass figure to receive large chunks of playing time.

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