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Kidd as Stockton...Why Not?

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If John Stockton could play til 41, why not Jason Kidd?

Jason Kidd’s performance this year has to raise a question for Nets’ fans and more importantly, for Nets management: how much more time does the Nets captain have?

Kidd has two years left on his contract, bringing him to age 36. In most careers, that would signal the end of the line. But what if Jason Kidd isn’t at the end of his career? What if he can go as long as one of his role models, John Stockton? How do you factor his contractual needs into long term salary planning? Is he the guy the team will be built around in Brooklyn? Will Marcus Williams be as valuable as a backup rather than a replacement?

If you look at Stockton’s career numbers–and assume Kidd will WANT to play as long as Stockton, it gets very interesting.

Stockton played til age 41 and eight of his 19 seasons came after age 33, Kidd’s age entering last season.

How did Stockton do in those last eight seasons. Pretty damn good…not quite as good statistically as he did in the first 11 seasons, but amazingly well.

Stockton played more than 600 games after age 33, starting the last 442 following knee surgery in 1998. Sound familiar? He played 18,749 minutes or 30.9 per game during that time. He scored 7,635 points, 12.6 per game, handed out 5,412 assists, 8.9 per game, had 1,040 steals 1.7 per game. Never the rebounder Kidd was, he still had his best year, 263 rebounds or 3.2 per game, at age 40, and had his best three point shooting season, 46.2%, at age 39. That same year, he recorded his only career triple-double, in a playoff game against the Mavericks. Kidd of course has 87.

More importantly, Stockton's teams had a record of 417-207 in those eight seasons, a winning percentage of 66.8%. He went to the NBA Finals twice during that time, losing to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in six games both times. Stockton was 35 and 36 during those runs. Stockton, in fact, had won three division titles, but no conference championship before age 34. By comparison, Kidd already has four division championships and two conference championships. (Kidd also won an Olympic gold at age 27 and will be going for his second at age 35, Stockton won his at age 30.)

And maybe most importantly for the Nets ownership, Stockton was willing to take a pay cut his last two years so the Jazz could avoid paying the luxury tax, agreeing to take $8 million for each of his last two years, $3 million less than what he had been paid.

Can Kidd match Stockton’s longevity? The numbers he put up this season place him in elite territory. He is also bigger and stronger than Stockton and like the former Jazz star, has a physical regimen that is as tough as anyone’s in the league.

As for personal goals, could playing til age 41 give Kidd a chance at passing Stockton for the overall lead in career assists? Not likely. Even if Kidd matched Stockton’s production between ages 33 and 41, he would still fall more than 2,000 short of Stockton’s total.