Those hopes are about to realized, according to NBA front-office sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks and Nets on Wednesday reached an agreement in principle on a Kidd deal after talks had seemingly stalled last week. If completed, the trade would be the NBA's third blockbuster deal of the month.
Although sources say the teams are still sorting out final details, this deal was described as "imminent" by multiple sources close to the process after negotiations moved to an advanced stage Tuesday night. The deal -- salvaged from talks on a three-way trade with Portland that developed and fizzled quickly two weeks ago -- has Dallas sending 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse, the expiring contracts of center DeSagana Diop and swingman Devean George and guard Maurice Ager to New Jersey for Kidd and forward Malik Allen.
Sources say Dallas will also send the Nets the league-maximum $3 million, the Mavs' first-round draft pick this June and a first-rounder in 2010.
Nets coach Lawrence Frank already was talking about life without his All-Star point guard.
"I love him. He's a very special person, but it's time for both him and the organization to part ways," Frank said before the Nets' game in Toronto.
"We're giving up a Hall of Fame point guard and some good role players. If this deal goes through, we'll be receiving some very good players as well and a new era of Nets basketball will start because Jason is that significant a player."
Kidd was with the Nets in Toronto, but didn't talk to the media before the game. He and Allen were both inactive, along with reserve Antoine Wright.
ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reports that the Nets and the Mavs are likewise poised to complete a separate trade that will send swingman Wright to Dallas for a future second-round pick.
Mavs coach Avery Johnson was much less forthcoming than Frank when it came to trade talk.
"What trade?" he asked reporters, then added, "all it is is speculation."
Stackhouse went further, saying his agent told him the trade would be completed.
"Now I think it's pretty much a done deal," Stackhouse told The Associated Press.
The Nets are expected to buy out Stackhouse's contract immediately, which could enable him to re-sign with Dallas if he waits 30 days.
"I feel great. I get 30 days to rest, then I'll be right back," Stackhouse said. "I ain't going nowhere."
Dallas had widely been considered the favorite to win the Kidd trade sweepstakes, despite the repeated attempts of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to publicly dismiss the idea of parting with multiple regulars for Kidd. Cuban told several New York-based reporters before New Jersey beat Dallas on Sunday that a deal for All-Star floor leader would severely weaken his roster.
"For us to make the numbers work in a deal like that, we'd have to trade away half the team," Cuban said. "We're not doing that, so it just doesn't work. And we like our team. We've got a lot of room for improvement and we hope to get better. But right now, I just don't see anything happening.
Yet sources close to the process insist that the talks have heated up within the past 24 hours, with the Mavs still tantalized by the prospect of bringing Kidd back more than a decade after the pre-Cuban regime drafted him out of Cal, watched him share rookie of the year honors with Grant Hill in 1994-95 and then traded him to Phoenix on the day after Christmas in 1996.
The Mavs' biggest reservation isn't sacrificing Harris, who signed a contract extension over the summer. Sources maintain that Dallas, while reluctant to part with one of Cuban's favorite players and its point guard of the future after signing Harris to, has been resigned for some time to losing Harris if it meant getting Kidd back.
The greater hesitation, sources said, is that they would also have to part with Stackhouse and Diop, weakening Dallas' depth. Even if the Nets do waive Stackhouse and Dallas is able to re-sign him after a 30-day wait, losing Diop is a significant blow. His departure would leave the inconsistent Erick Dampier as the Mavericks' only veteran center at a time when potential playoff foes like the Los Angeles Lakers (Pau Gasol) and Phoenix Suns (Shaquille O'Neal) are getting bigger.
But Dallas appears more motivated than ever in spite of those concerns and the current lack of a third team to join in and broaden the trade, believing that Kidd -- although he turns 35 in March and is threatening to establish a new career low with his 36.7 percent shooting from the field -- is still a prime source of leadership and mental toughness.
Kidd displayed those qualities in abundance during a strong summer with Team USA and those areas are well-chronicled weak spots for the Mavs, who followed up a historic collapse to Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals with a first-round flameout against Golden State after winning 67 games last season. A point guard of Kidd's caliber, influence and experience would undoubtedly please the demanding Avery Johnson, reinvigorate a team that has been lacking energy and confidence. It would also supply Dallas' coach with a dangerous four-man core of Kidd, Josh Howard, Jason Terry and reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki is the player Kidd has had in mind when privately telling associates in recent months that he hoped to go back to Dallas. Although his desire to leave New Jersey had been suspected all season, Kidd didn't go public with that wish until late January, when he told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that it's time for him and New Jersey "all to move on" in separate directions.
Kidd was acquired by the Nets in the 2001 offseason in a trade with Phoenix featuring Stephon Marbury. He sparked New Jersey to the most successful period in the team's NBA history, starting with back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. After giving strong consideration to signing with San Antonio in the summer of 2003, Kidd elected to stay with the Nets. During the past four-plus seasons, however, New Jersey has not advanced past the second round of the playoffs, despite the 2004 arrival of Vince Carter and Kidd's successful recovery from microfracture knee surgery.
"He was a great teammate and friend to me," Nets forward Richard Jefferson said. "Of course you want to see him happy, but also you would like to believe that we could have tried to figure out a way to get the problem here fixed. He didn't believe the problem could be fixed so he asked out and they accommodated him. I think a lot of that was the respect they had for him and what he's done here."
The Nets were prepared to deal Kidd to the Lakers at the trade deadline last season but pulled out of the deal when the Lakers refused to part with center Andrew Bynum, who has since blossomed. This deal would give them a highly rated point guard who's 10 years younger than Kidd and three cap-friendly contracts if the Mavericks indeed include Ager.
The Nets could come away with even more salary-cap relief if the Mavericks built their trade package around Harris and a signed-and-traded Keith Van Horn. Although he has been out of the game since the end of the 2005-06 season, Van Horn hasn't filed official retirement papers with the league, allowing Dallas to retain his rights. And because Van Horn's final NBA salary was nearly $16 million, Dallas can re-sign him for a substantial amount and thus create a lucrative expiring contract for the Nets, because only the first year of a contract must be guaranteed in a sign-and-trade arrangement.
Cuban, though, told ESPN.com last week that "we won't use [Van Horn] in any deal for anyone." That's because Kidd would cost the Mavericks nearly $40 million next season, thanks to the luxury tax, if they sent only Harris, Van Horn and salary-cap filler to the Nets.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.