Countdown: No. 3 Jason Kidd

Thirteenth in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.

For many, even after his out-of-this-world performance in the 2011 postseason, Jason Kidd would not be a consideration to bring back next season. After all, he'll turn 40 in March and he's coming off a season in which he struggled through three injuries, missed 18 of 66 games and finished with the worst statistics of his career.

In fact, there will be some of you who can't believe Kidd wasn't on this list a week ago.

Everyone by now should know that Kidd's value is not measured by statistics alone. And in regards to next season, his value can only be measured in Dirk Nowitzki's happiness. Remember, Nowitzki is the one that really pushed for the 2008 trade for Kidd, persevered with Kidd through the rough times when it didn't look like a championship was in the stars and then ultimately won a title with Kidd -- a long-awaited first for both.

And now Nowitzki wants him back. Nowitzki believes Kidd can still play the game at a high level and make offense easier for the rest of the team, as Nowitzki has often said. But there's another variable at work here. Nowitzki, one might surmise, wants Kidd back to help ease the transition with the possibility of a large-scale roster revamp on the way. And that revamp could possibly include the club's future point guard, whether it's Kidd's friend Deron Williams or someone else.

Nowitzki needs another familiar face, another familiar voice, a veteran, old-school, respected presence to set the ground rules and help bring a new cast of players together as quickly as possible. Kidd, loved by all in the NBA, would be integral in getting that done.

Just listen to Nowitzki talk about his pal:

"I’d love to have him back," Nowitzki said. "I was very fortunate in my career to play with two of the best passing point guards there ever were with Nashie (Steve Nash) and him. He’s been great. He's been a warrior, just one of probably the fiercest competitors I’ve ever been around. That’s why he was able to stick around a long time, because he still has it. He can make big shots, he can compete on defense, he doesn’t care about stats and he’s been a great friend off the floor, too; great guy, Hall of Fame player. We wish to have him back, but if he decides, hey, there’s a good team I can come off the bench and give them something and he leaves, then I can’t be mad at him."

But would Dirk be mad if the Mavs didn't go the extra mile to re-sign Kidd if dollars gap isn't ridiculously wide?

This will be interesting.

The Countdown roars along at No. 3 ...


Pos.: PG

Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-4, 210

Experience: 18 years

Age: 39 (March 23, 1973)

2011-12 stats: 6.2 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.1 rpg, 48 G

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

2011-12 salary: $10.1 million

2012-13 salary: TBD

His story: A decade ago Kidd guided the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, proving that the step-child franchise can win in the shadow of the Big Apple. And that was back when the shadow extended to the Jersey swamps and didn't have a Russian billionaire owner promising to pay whatever it takes to field a championship club. The question is whether J-Kidd is showering any advice on the younger Williams, like how great it might be to revive that franchise in a beautiful new building in Brooklyn. Or perhaps Kidd is telling Williams how great Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson treat their players and how they'll always give the franchise a chance to compete no matter how difficult it appears (and this is one of those times). Kidd has made no secret that he would happily accept a backup role to Williams and very few others -- here or even possibly up there. Kidd has said he'd like to return to Dallas, while at the same time leaving the door for change wide open.

His outlook: Kidd has also said he wants to play two more years to take him through 20 seasons and age 41. But can he be an effective everyday player at his age? Will a return to the full 82-game schedule, with its month-long buildup to the regular season and the normal days off between games help him stay healthy and be more effective than he was during this rushed and compacted season? And how much will he command on the open market? Does Kidd see himself as a full mid-level guy? And which teams that he might find attractive will be open to pay him? When the season ended, Kidd predicted that his future will be settled very quickly once the July 1 free agency period opens. Is that because he assumes that D-Will's future will be sealed quickly? The intrigue builds.

No. 15 Lamar Odom

No. 14 Brian Cardinal

No. 13 Yi Jianlian

No. 12 Dominique Jones

No. 11 Brendan Haywood

No. 10 Kelenna Azubuike

No. 9 Ian Mahinmi

No. 8 Vince Carter

No. 7 Rodrigue Beaubois

No. 6 Brandan Wright

No. 5 Jason Terry

No. 4 Delonte West

No. 3 Jason Kidd

No. 2 Coming Thursday