With the February 22 trade deadline looming as large as the market value of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, the New York Sun’s John Hollinger opines, “if the Nets reach the conclusion that Carter will opt out of his deal and leave for greener pastures, then it only makes sense to begin the rebuilding now.”

Reports say the Lakers have offered a package of expiring contracts, young players, and draft picks to the Nets in return for Kidd. That’s the type of deal that could jump-start New Jersey’s rebuilding process, should the team choose to go that way.

And with the Nets mulling over the Lakers’ proposal and undoubtedly calling around the league to see if other, better ones are in the offing, it seems clear that New Jersey’s front office is more or less resigned to this fate.

If it is, this offer deserves serious consideration. While the offer can take on many different forms depending on the contracts included, there’s one in particular that seems the most logical. That would send Kidd and Jason Collins to the Lakers for six players ” Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm, Aaron McKie, Shammond Williams, Jordan Farmar (above, left), and Brian Cook ” as well as two firstround picks and cash.

Mihm and McKie are injured and won’t play again this year. Both have expiring contracts, shaving nearly $7 million off the Nets’ cap number after the season.

Williams also has an expiring contract, though he’s healthy and would probably see some backcourt minutes if he wasn’t moved to a third team. That cuts nearly $2 million more.

Brown, a bust as the league’s top overall pick in 2001, has a severely sprained ankle and may not play again this year. He has one year left on his deal before it expires, which would drop nearly $9 million from the Nets’ cap number in the summer of 2008. In the meantime, he’d be a useful player in Jersey’s system ” he defends the high pick-and-roll well and can score in the post a little.

Some might wonder if Los Angeles would be willing to do a six-fortwo trade like this because of the impact on its depth, but when one considers the ramifications ” a trio of Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Kidd would seem to be a title contender ” it looks like a risk worth taking.

How’s this for repaying Donald Sterling’s confidence? The San Antonio Express News’ Mike Monroe (above) claims the Clippers’ terminal bit of trade bait Corey Maggette isn’t getting out of Mike Dunleavy’s doghouse.

The team’s coaches believe Maggette is responsible for having single-handedly ruined team chemistry, separating himself from teammates to the point he sits at a table by himself when the coaches have a breakfast meeting on road trips in lieu of a morning shootaround. Maggette has had two reported confrontations with head coach Mike Dunleavy during, or after, games this season. While Dunleavy has taken the “high road” in discussing the incidents, don’t doubt he would be much happier if Maggette were gone.

Why, then, is Maggette still with the Clippers? Ask Donald T. Sterling. He owns the team, and Maggette, we’re told, is his favorite player. Sterling has nixed several possible deals already and has made it clear to Dunleavy and general manager Elgin Baylor they are not to do a Maggette trade he does not approve.

If you’re wondering why Maggette started in Elton Brand’s stead in the Clippers’ game at Detroit on Monday night, it was because that game, unlike the team’s previous game in Indianapolis, was televised back in Los Angeles. The coaches were hoping Sterling would see enough of Maggette’s uninspired (and uninspiring) play to perhaps lift his embargo on a deal. Maggette didn’t disappoint, missing seven of 10 shots in a blowout loss.

Mark Madsen compares having a gay teammate to having a praying coach, later declaring,

I don™t care if my teammate is green or purple. I don™t care if he is from the U.S., overseas, or Mars. If my teammate respects the space of every man in the locker room and keeps the locker room code, he will be welcomed by me.

Knowing that Mad Dog is every bit as skilled a blogger as he is a dancer, I am confident that “respects the space of every man in the locker room” couldn’t possibly be a euphamism for “don’t bring your gayness on me”.