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NEW YORK — “Did you hear New Jersey is offering to sign and trade Jason Kidd for Tony Parker?” I asked Tim Duncan while walking him to the team bus following Game 3 of The NBA Finals, whose highlight, so far, is Dikembe Mutombo turning 90 before the Nets did.

“Are you serious?” Duncan responded in all seriousness. “No, only joking,” I confessed. “I think.”

That’s how anti-pubescent Parker frequently has looked in his magnum match-up against the league’s legendary cutthroat.

While I’m still convinced Kidd is the most coveted rising free agent in the Spurs’ directory, you have got to wonder why they would feel the need to recruit an established playmaker when Parker appears to be outdistancing his competition in terms of compiling positive championship round experience.

Not that I’m suggesting Parker is perfect, by any stretch. Pound-for-pound, he can over-dribble and dominate the ball with the worst of ’em, sometimes foolishly declining to play inside-out or move the ball from side-to-side in order to hoist up an unsavory shot.

As evidenced by his intermittent bouts with impatience and immaturity, he still has a lot to learn.

Having noted that, if the Spurs can’t be beaten with the 21-year-old Parker as its tenderfoot guide what makes anyone think the task — a happy, healthy and hydrated Shaq and Kobe, not withstanding — is going to be easier in seasons to come?

The time to silence these lambs is now, not later after they have gained familiarity with each other, knowledge of the game and an air of invincibility.

Particularly when you factor in the factoid that the Spurs have $14 million in salary cap space this summer to invest in fresh, compatible talent.

Which brings us to our next question for Duncan.

“Before Gregg Popovich and his staff decide to reach out for that certain someone or two, I assume they’ll ask for your opinion?”

“Yeah, I’m sure they’ll come to me and ask for my input,” Duncan agreed.

“And??? What do you think your team needs most?”

“We need another scorer.”

“Yeah, but not necessarily another scoring point guard,” I replied, doing my flimsiest to lead the witness.

“With David Robinson leaving we definitely need a big man.”

“And??? Who would you like to replace him? You know who the free agents are going to be. Who would you like rebounding, defending and scoring alongside you?”

“There’s Jermaine O’Neal and Brad Miller. P.J. Brown is also out there. He would be a nice fit, too,” answered Duncan before offering a stream of accolades on behalf of restricted free agent Elton Brand, the Clippers’ undersized macho forward.

“Who would you prefer? A center or a power forward?”

“That’s a good question. I prefer a center,” declared Duncan after a very brief pause.

Guess that decides that.

Indiana Pacers coach Isiah Thomas was asked by USA coach Larry Brown to help prepare/assist the Dream Team for August’s qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.

By the way, nice of Kidd to step up big (6-19) during and after Sunday’s alleged statement game; afterward he told the assemblage, “We’re the underdog. They’re supposed to be a better team.”

Correct me if I’m right, but wasn’t the Jersey jingle going in, “Last year, we were just happy to be here. This year, we’re not afraid of the big, bad West.”

After hearing Kidd’s spin, Bob Ryan charged the podium and slapped him.

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