SAN ANTONIO — Jason Kidd's legacy with the New Jersey Nets may be limited to getting them to the NBA Finals.
Kidd and the Nets saw their dream of winning their first NBA title thwarted by a big man from the West for the second straight year as Tim Duncan led the San Antonio Spurs to an 88-77 win in Game 6 on Sunday night.
Compared to the team that got swept by Shaquille O'Neal and three-peat Lakers last season, this Nets team seemed oh-so-close to a title.
They were right there in the crucial Game 5 in New Jersey despite having an ill Kenyon Martin in the lineup, and they blew a 10-point four-quarter lead Sunday, buried under a 19-0 run led by former teammate Stephen Jackson and a dismal 6-for-25 shooting performance in the final 12 minutes.
Now the question mark is the future.
Kidd, who transformed the Nets from an also-ran into the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions after coming in a trade with Phoenix, will become a free agent on July 1. He had 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds in what might have been his final game as a Net.
Kidd said it will take some time before he decides his future.
"It's going to be a while," Kidd said. "I've got a lot to think about."
There was a certain sense of irony as Kidd walked off the court almost unnoticed with about 12 seconds to play. The crowd at the SBC Center was roaring wildly, but it was for Duncan, who also left the court at the same time.
Ironically, the team which has the money to sign Kidd are the Spurs.
About a minute after the final buzzer with confetti falling, Kidd and Duncan embraced on the court and seemed to whisper to each other. It would have been interesting to hear the brief conversation.
If Kidd leaves, the Nets will have a major hole at the point guard, where they had the best player in the league at that position the last two years.
If Kidd stays, there are other areas to be addressed, as was shown in this series repeatedly by San Antonio's overall defense and its zone.
Kidd wouldn't guarantee a return to the Nets.
"I can't, I can't," Kidd said. "I've got to play free agency out and I've got to look at all of my options."
The Spurs' big-man combination of Duncan and David Robinson, who is retiring, prevented New Jersey from running most of the series, and the Nets struggled from the outside in the half-court offense.
Kerry Kittles did an adequate job in Game 6, shooting 5-for-12 and scoring 16 points and Richard Jefferson added 13.
Martin had his second straight tough game with six points on 3-for-23 shooting.
Martin, who had a playoff-low four points in Game 5 on Friday in New Jersey, seemed fully recovered when he two of his first shots.
However, he struggled the rest of the way making only 1 of his final 19.
"He just had a bad game," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "He just couldn't throw it into the ocean tonight."