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Time for Nets to dump Kidd, Carter

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NEW YORK — If it’s not already a living lock, the time has come, the walrus says, for the 25-27 Nets to make a command decision today — not tomorrow, not next week and definitely long before the Feb. 22 trade deadline, when any leverage they may own now will be lessened or lost — to deal Jason Kidd and Vince Carter.

Should the franchise’s two paramount players survive that cut-off date, New Jersey consequentially is at the mercy of Kidd’s age (34) and Carter’s contract opt-out option (this summer), as well as the recuperative powers of Richard Jefferson and Nenad Krstic.

Even if all four of those stars were to fall into perfect alignment next season, assuming an at-ease position would only prolong the inevitable, short term, at best.

It’s the fourth quarter. The wishing-and-praying- things-would-work-out-phase clearly has expired.

Two straight summers Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski, duty-bound to avoid the luxury tax, attempted to surround Kidd, Carter and Jefferson with halfway competent understudies in hopes of keeping the playoff ball/title dream alive.

Last season’s good try was “blunted” by Cliff Robinson’s untimely five-game suspension.

This season is going nowhere worthwhile, either, regardless of how many games Carter can win at the end by his lonesome, or how much luck the Nets may latch onto for all the above reasons.

Time and the control of assets are dissolving on the double. Failure to dramatically renovate the roster, by getting something for Kidd and Carter while the getting is good, will trigger long-term damage.

Radical surgery, not masking tape and Band-Aids, is what’s needed. Thinking creatively and constructively is what’s required. Unlocking and reloading is what the situation demands.

A couple weeks ago, I revealed the Lakers had offered a couple first-round draft picks and several expiring contracts for Kidd.

Chris Mihm, Aaron McKie, etc., and Jordan Farmar were mentioned.

Kwame Brown, out forever, and an additional four more weeks, because of a mangled ankle, would almost have to be included in order to conform with NBA trade conditions.

That is, unless Shammond Williams, Smush Parker, Maurice Evans and Luke Walton were included in the mix, along with the league maximum $3 million in cash to pay off at least McKie and Williams.

I would also expect any deal involving Brown to include Jason Collins.

At any rate, the L.A. media essentially confirmed that disclosure.

Since then GM Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson have downplayed prospects any time soon of importing an established point guard or a big man to supplement an undersized 30-21 team that’s dropped six of its last 10.

I tend to link deception, not discretion, with Jackson. In this case, it’s a batch of both.

According to the source that provided the original, juicy news, the Kidd conversation only briefly was deactivated.

The way I hear it, Nets management is seriously considering accepting the offer (so get it done), but plans to wait until the 22nd, faintly optimistic something superior will materialize.

Not that the bidding is limited to L.A. I have it on excellent authority the Cavaliers — desperate to relieve LeBron James of his playmaking-for-others-and-himself obligation, and transform him into an open court, post-up receiver — called the Nets to voice their fondness for Kidd.

“I don’t look for that to happen,” said someone in the know, as far as Cleveland’s bad contracts offer and Kidd’s sentiments regarding the possibility. “Given the choice between playing in Cleveland with LeBron or in Los Angeles with Kobe, I suspect we know where Jason wants to go. Not that it’s his call, but you definitely don’t want an unhappy impact player.”

OK, so imagine for a moment the luxurious lineup of Kobe, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Walton (can’t see L.A. parting with him) and Kidd, who has two years left after this at $19.7 million and $21.3 million.

A major contributing factor, of course, in the Nets’ coherent thought process to let Kidd go is Marcus Williams’ validation he’s ready to run the offense and handle the associated pressure. Starting fresh with the suave rookie as the team’s “fulcrum point” is actually a comforting proposition.

If Kidd goes, I’ve got to believe Carter gets dispatched, too. Finding a team to assume his free agent-in-waiting risk is an obstacle, no doubt.