NEW YORK — Here’s a depressing thought past Jason Kidd absconding to San Antonio this summer: The Spurs are have so much salary cap space there’s no need — other than immediately compensating Kidd to the fullest vs. three years into the contract via an escape clause — to do a sign-and-trade deal.

On the other hand, any possibility, no matter how implausible, should be examined.

So, say the Spurs would be willing to do something to save salary space to use on recruiting size (Jermaine O’Neal, Michael Olowokandi or Brad Miller, for instance) to succeed David Robinson. In that case, say they would be glad to turn over some of their players to the Nets.

Like, who? Not Tony Parker, that’s for sure. Not Emanuel Ginobili, either. Too young, too athletic, too much upside, too much everything.

Who else does San Antonio have under contract that might help soften the blow? Malik Rose?

At least he’s legit in body and soul, but do the Nets really want to tie up $38 million over the next six seasons on an undersized macho forward with marginal offensive skills? Don’t think so.

Bruce Bowen? He covers the perimeter small forwards and big guards as well as anyone and hits an occasional wide open 3-pointer. Always nice to have a defensive specialist in the house, especially one making less ($3.65 million and $4 million) than the league average, but nothing to get excited about.

Guess what? Other than the injury perforated Speedy Claxton, the Spurs aren’t locked into any other players; that’s why they have so much accessible persuasion power.

In other words, New Jersey is in excruciating peril of losing its most valuable asset (apologies to Byron Scott) without getting anyone or anything in return. It doesn’t get more despondent; Even owner Roy Boe pocketed $3 million from Philadelphia when he sold Julius Erving in 1976.

Knicks’ president Scott Layden chased Philadelphia’s Keith Van Horn right up until the trading deadline, concocting all sorts of three-way proposals in hopes of growing taller at small forward.

When the 76ers balked at taking Brian Grant (it’s unknown whether Miami was willing to take Latrell Sprewell), Layden impudently offered Spree’s two-year, $28 million burden to the Spurs, who were expected to give the 76ers Rose and Steve Smith. Wonder who planted that idea in Layden’s brain, Nets GM Rod Thorn?

Those in the know maintain Clippers center Michael Olowokandi already is (illegally) committed to the title-contending Spurs for far less than the maximum demanded from my Roach Clips.

Since he sees himself as being smarter than most and basketball clearly is not his peak priority, it’s felt the 213-cm Nigerian would be a perfect replacement for the retiring Robinson.

Unless the Spurs and agent Bill Duffy are dumb enough to put their alleged agreement in writing or on tape, who knows what’s real or imagined? Moreover, who’s going to stop The Kandi Man from changing his mind should he luck into max money, after all? All it takes is one bonehead.

It all depends, I guess, on how desperate the Nuggets are feeling, or how forlorn the Jazz may be should Karl Malone decide he would rather finish his career competing for a championship with the Lakers or Mavericks next season for a mid-level salary ($4.5 million) exception.

Fact is, Kidd and Jermaine O’Neal (not Olowokandi, Gary Payton, Brad, Reggie or Andre Miller, Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Terry, Malone or John Stockton) are the NBA’s only free agents-to-be assured of landing big money.

And the Spurs are the only team with a remote chance of luring the 211-cm All-Star forward away from the Pacers.

“I have the utmost respect for Donnie Walsh,” O’Neal said. “If he didn’t trade for me and give me the opportunity to show what I can do I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“The only way I would entertain going to San Antonio for so much as an interview is if our team completely falls apart,” O’Neal stressed. That was weeks and weeks ago . . . long before Indy went lost eight of nine games.

I’m hearing Phoenix Suns assistant coach Mark Iavaroni will be strongly considered as head coach of the Cavaliers should interim boss Keith Smart not be retained. Owner Gordon Gund loved his work years ago when Iavaroni helped Zydrunas Ilgauskas improve.

Sources say the Heat plans to make a pitch for Brad Miller. As long as Pat Riley is prohibited from bidding above the current $7 million plateau, it’s an exercise in futility; the Pacers definitely intend to go higher than that to keep Brad within easy driving distance of his Indiana lakefront property.

Coach Paul Silas is looking pretty smart for rebuking the Hornets’ insulting $2 million extension offer last summer. Three weeks ago, his Baron Davis-less squad (handicapped, too, by the always apathetic, often defective Elden Campbell) was one loss shy of sinking to .500, which supposedly would have triggered Silas’ removal.

Now New Orleans is eight games above the equator and its coach is on course to join Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Dunleavy this summer as their profession’s most desirable free agents.

During a recent group interview, Yao Ming was asked (through an interpreter) how many English words he know.

“Two” he signaled, holding up a couple of fingers. “What are they?” a reporter asked. “Last question” Yao deadpanned.

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