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Kidd Is Traded to Suns for Cassell, Finley, Green

December 27, 1996|From Associated Press

DALLAS — The "Three Js" are now two.

Jason Kidd and two other players were traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night for Sam Cassell, A.C. Green, Michael Finley and a second-round draft choice.

"This is for our future. Jason Kidd is a franchise player. He's a perennial All-Star," Sun Coach Danny Ainge said. "I knew he was unhappy in Dallas, and I think he'll be excited with starting over fresh in a new city. If he can rekindle that fire he had in his first and second years, he'll be a superstar."

Kidd, the co-rookie of the year in 1995 who feuded with teammates Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn and was unhappy with the system installed by Coach Jim Cleamons, was traded along with Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer, two players who have been used sparingly this season.

"Coach Cleamons really felt that for the last 30 to 60 days there needed to be some changes," minority owner Frank Zaccanelli said. "Jim Cleamons made the decision to pull the trigger."

Cleamons--whose team-first attitude seemed to clash with Kidd--tried downplaying his role in the deal, instead repeatedly explaining how the trade benefits Dallas because it could be getting three starters for one.

"This is just another brick in the wall, and there will be others," Cleamons said after a 113-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors. "I don't see this being significant other than the fact we are trying to become a better basketball team and we're trying to add some depth and quality."

The Suns gave up three players who have struggled to find playing time.

Cassell, who was acquired by the Suns in the trade that sent Charles Barkley to the Houston Rockets, was leading Phoenix in scoring at 14.8 points per game.

Finley, a first-round draft pick of the Suns in 1995, has averaged 13 points--down from his rookie average of 15.0.

Cleamons called him "the linchpin" in making the deal, adding that he'll play at both guard spots and at small forward.

Green was averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Suns, who lost their first 13 games and underwent a coaching change earlier this season.

"We gave up a lot," Ainge said. "Finley has a lot of potential and A.C. has been a warrior throughout his career. But we had an abundance of power forwards. This solidifies our No. 1 guard spot for the future."

Kidd will share time at point guard this season, then will take over the starting job once Johnson retires at the end of the season.

Kidd received news at Reunion Arena before the start of the Dallas-Golden State game.

"I didn't have any sense I was going to be traded. I'm excited to be going to Phoenix, but I'm also sad to be leaving a lot of good friends here," Kidd said.

Kidd's presence in Dallas, along with that of Jackson and Mashburn, was supposed to give the Mavericks a trio of stars to help the team rebuild after going 11-71 in 1992-93 and 13-69 in 1993-94.

But the "Three Js," as they were known, never meshed. Kidd and Jackson had a falling out last season and Mashburn sat out the final 64 games because of a knee injury.

The Mavericks may not be done reconstructing the team as Cleamons sees fit.

"I guess everybody's got to watch their back," Mashburn said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Trade at a Glance

PHOENIX ACQUIRES

* Jason Kidd, guard averaging 9.9 points and 9.1 assists. His field goal and free throw percentages have gone down each of his three seasons.

* Tony Dumas, third-year shooting guard averaging 4.0 points. Shooting 35%. Averaged 11.6 points last season.

* Loren Meyer, second-year center averaging 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds.

DALLAS ACQUIRES

* Sam Cassell, guard leading Phoenix in scoring at 14.8 points.

* A.C. Green, former Laker forward who has played in 840 consecutive games, averaging 5.7 points and 5.1 rebounds.

* Michael Finley, forward and first-round 1995 draft pick averaging 13 points.

Note: Dallas also receives a second-round draft pick in 1997 or 1998.

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