With his team in the midst of a four-game winning streak and basking in the glow of a Friday night win over the defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic, Jason Kidd took some time out this past Friday night in Orlando to talk with the JasonKidd.com staff.
At 36, Jason is still going strong (Getty Images).
In an exclusive interview, J-Kidd talked about how he feels about the team as currently constructed, the impact of each of the players the Mavericks added at the trade deadline, the uprising of point guards in the league, the continued of improvement of LeBron James and the battle the Mavericks face in trying to wrestle the Western Conference away from the Los Angeles Lakers, who the Mavs face tonight in Dallas:
Q: How do you feel about the talent level of this team after the trade for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson?
We have talent at each position. We’re a veteran ball club and we understand what it takes to win. When you have a veteran ball club, you might be older, people might think you’re slower but you have to use your wisdom and knowledge to win ball games and that’s where we feel we have an advantage.
Q: What’s gone into the process of integrating the new guys into the Mavs offense?
It’s easy. When they’ve got talent, I just try to stay out of their way. For me, my job is just to get those guys the ball and let them do what they’ve done for years. Stevenson, Haywood and Caron, those guys are veteran guys. They know how to play. Those guys are all hungry. We needed that on this team and they’ve done great since they’ve come in.
Q: Is it more difficult learning how each of those players plays on the fly in the midst of a road trip?
This is four games in five nights. We’re practicing and at the same time we’re playing. Games are our practice. But we’re a veteran ball club so I think that helps.
Sometimes the schedule can help you. We’re throwing guys in to the fire and we’re a veteran ball club. The beauty of this team is we want each other to be successful so we’re helping each other out on the go. We all have one goal and that’s to win. You can see that on the floor.
Q: What is the team chemistry like within the Mavericks locker room?
These guys are great guys. They have a great sense of humor and as we go on here, we’re going to get to know these guys a lot better. We feel that we have a chance.
Q: What does Caron Butler bring to the table?
Caron is an All-Star. He plays hard on both ends, he runs the floor, so my job is just to get him the ball and let him do what he does best.
He’s enjoying the opportunity that he has, a fresh start. He’s a talent and that makes the game so much easier for us. That’s what we talk about as a team. Being a veteran ball club, we don’t have to take bad shots. There’s always going to be someone open if we make the extra pass. He brings that to us, being able to knock open shots down or make the right play.
Q: How about Brendan Haywood?
Brendan makes us bigger. He gives us an offensive threat. You can throw it down to him and he has some skill. You can’t look at him as just being a defender. He showed that tonight by finishing some plays and being able to get the ball in the post. He shoots his little hook shots and blocks shots defensively. He’s a big guy and he makes us bigger.
Q: What is it like psychologically around the trade deadline with players coming and going so much?
Sometimes you feel good. You get a new lease on the game of basketball, a new situation. Sometimes, you don’t like it, but at the end of the day you have a job to do and that’s to play at a high-level.
Q: Who do you feel are the NBA’s most impressive point guards right now?
There are a ton of point guards who impress me. You start with Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. I call those the veteran guys. Then you look at the next flight of the young guys. Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, these guys all know how to play the game and it’s scary how young they are.
Nash is a two-time MVP. Chris Paul is always leading the league in assists, so it’s hard to pick one. Deron can fill up the stat sheet too, so it’s hard to just pick one.
Q: What have you seen this season in the development of LeBron James?
I think each year LeBron shows us something different. He’s almost to the point of unstoppable. Now he’s shooting the ball so well from the three-point line. He’s so strong and so fast. He can get to the basket. It’s great to see each year that he’s added something new.
Q: A lot of people have already penciled the Lakers in to the NBA Finals. Do you think the Mavericks are a sleeper in the Western Conference?
The Lakers are a championship type team. We can’t worry about LA, Denver, San Antonio, Utah. We have to just be concerned with ourselves. We have to go out there and get better each time we take the floor. At the end we’ll see where we stack up, if we’re fortunate enough to get to the playoffs. When the time presents itself, we just have to be ready.
Q: What does the team need to do down the stretch here to prepare for the playoffs?
However you want to look at it, we have 30 games left. We know what’s at stake. We can’t wait to start playing our best basketball. We have to start now. We got off to a good start in Oklahoma City, but we had one bad quarter. But that was something for us to learn from that we have to play defense if we want to win. I think everybody believes in that.
Q: How does it feel being a tribute to the stat book, as far as being second all time in assists, fifth in made threes, sixth in steals and third in triple-doubles? Do you ever step back and say ‘Wow, I’ve played a lot of games?’
(Laughs.) I have played a lot of games. My body feels like I’ve played a lot of games. It’s a great honor and my teammates have helped me achieve that. It just shows when you put in hard work in the offseason and you’re determined, good things can happen.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say to your fans and all your JasonKidd.com visitors?
Thanks for the support. We look forward to your continued support. Enjoy supporting the Mavs and hopefully we’ll see you with that big trophy.
Jason Kidd and the fresh-faced Mavericks are ready for the ultimate challenge, taking on the defending World Champion Los Angeles Lakers tonight at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs are riding high on a four-game win streak and have home-court advantage tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers.
No. 2 knows the Lakers aren’t a team to be taken lightly. He compared the Lakers to a large hurdle, as he told the Star Telegram:
"At the end of the day, if you can’t get past them, you’re not going anywhere," Jason said. "For us to get a win tomorrow against the Lakers would be big, for us to have 2-2 against them. To beat them at their place, and then to come here and protect home tomorrow would be huge, in that sense. But it’s another game for us to try to get a W."
Tip-off of the Western Conference showdown is scheduled for 8 p.m. CST and the game can be seen nationwide on ESPN.