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· Jersey Girl
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June 23, 2002 -- Stephon Marbury for Jason Kidd. The greatest trade in the history of the Nets' franchise. It opened up the Nets' draft night maneuvering, which led to another trade. Together they led to the finest NBA season in franchise history.

And yet the best trade last year by the Nets was one they didn't make: a deal featuring Marbury to the Clippers for Keyon Dooling and the No. 2 pick in the draft. That selection was Tyson Chandler, the same guy the Nets likely would have chosen.

But the trade never went down. The Nets were ready to pull the trigger, sources said, but the Clippers dragged and hesitated. The Suns, meanwhile, entered with their offer of Kidd, who had become a public-relations liability. The Nets were intrigued. Twelve months later they were in the NBA Finals.

"We talked to several teams over the course of time [before the draft]," said Nets team president Rod Thorn. "There was reluctance because of the age of Marbury."

The Kidd trade was discussed in advance of draft night then agreed upon and tweaked to meet salary-cap restrictions "three or four days before the draft," Thorn said. Of course, Kidd could become a free agent after two years so acquiring him was a gamble.

"But a gamble worth taking, definitely," Thorn said.

With Kidd in place - tentatively because the deal was not finalized until July 18 when a league moratorium on trades and free-agent signings ended - the Nets took Step Two in their makeover. They selected Eddie Griffith with the seventh pick and promptly sent him to the Rockets, who drafted for the Nets, Richard Jefferson (13th), Jason Collins (18th) and Brandon Armstrong (23rd). The Nets picked up Brian Scalabrine in the second round and then the day Kidd officially became a Net, a six-year, $34 million-plus free-agent offer went to Todd MacCulloch, who was eventually signed.

But it was the trade that didn't happen that put so much in motion.

A year later, no such draft-night machinations loom for the Nets who, with the 24th pick, are likely to go for the best player available, regardless of position. Probably, that will be a guard. Another option is to take a foreign player under contract and wait.

"There are 3-4-5 guys we'd like a chance at but I don't think they'll get to us," said Thorn. "So we very possibly could take the best player available."

They'll still look at forwards Ryan Humphrey of Notre Dame and Aaron McGhee of Oklahoma. They've met swingman Rod Grizzard of Alabama. But tomorrow, when eight players work out, and Tuesday the gang will include Smush Parker of Fordham, Frankie Williams of Illinois, Marcus Taylor of Michigan State, Roger Mason of Virginia and Juan Dixon of Maryland. Among those already worked out are Casey Jacobsen of Stanford, Predrag Savovic of Hawaii, Steve Logan of Cincinnati and Ronald Murray of Shaw University, the Division II Player of the Year.
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