Exchanging of the guard


PHOENIX, AP

The Phoenix Suns are sending first-team All NBA point guard Jason Kidd to the New Jersey Nets for point guard Stephon Marbury. Suns owner Jerry Colangelo confirmed the deal at a news conference Thursday afternoon. He said other players would be involved, but Kidd and Marbury were the main components of the deal. The deal could not be made official until July 18 because of base compensation and contract issues, Colangelo said. But the agreement has already been made between the teams. The stunning trade signals a complete makeover for a Suns team that had been built around Kidd. The franchise had experienced sagging attendance in recent seasons, and Kidd’s off-court problems had added to the Suns’ woes. Kidd, 28, was first team all-NBA the past two seasons and was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the Sydney Olympics. He played 4 1/2 seasons for the Suns and became one of only three players to lead the league in assists at least three years in a row. He rehabilitated a somewhat tarnished image he had developed in his early NBA days in Dallas and became a model citizen in Phoenix. Kidd averaged 16.9 points and 9.8 assists per game last season and shot 41 percent from the field. When the Suns signed free agent Penny Hardaway in 1999, he and Kidd were dubbed “Backcourt 2000” but injuries prevented the two from playing together most of the last two seasons. Marbury, 24, averaged a career-high 23.9 points and 7.6 assists per game last season and shot 44 percent.

However, the Nets were just 26-56 and the point guard didn’t hide his disgust with the situation. Milwaukee made Marbury the fourth overall pick in the 1996 draft, and traded his rights to Minnesota. At his own request to be closer to his Brooklyn home, he was traded to New Jersey midway through the 1998-99 season. Marbury was a teammate of current Suns forward Tom Gugliotta at Minnesota, where the two reportedly did not get along well.