So it was not a surprise that the 40-year-old Kidd, the third-oldest player in the league, announced his retirement Monday with two years left on his contract with the Knicks. In his last month in a Knicks uniform, Kidd could barely put the ball in the basket. He did not score a point in the Knicks’ second-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, and he missed his last 18 shots of the postseason.
In the final two games against Indiana, Coach Mike Woodson played Kidd only 11 minutes.
“I’ve played the game for a long time,” Kidd said in a radio interview Monday on ESPN. “This was the time to move on.”
Kidd’s departure leaves three guards on the Knicks’ roster: Raymond Felton, J. R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. However, Smith is expected to opt out of his contract to pursue free agency and is not certain to return. Shumpert may be needed in the frontcourt.
Another useful guard, Pablo Prigioni, is a free agent and could also play elsewhere next season.
But that is not Kidd’s concern. Instead, he can let his career résumé speak for itself. As a distributor, rebounder and defender, he helped the Dallas Mavericks win a championship in 2011 in his second stint with the team. He drastically raised the visibility of the Nets when he led them to the N.B.A. finals in 2002 and 2003. The Phoenix Suns made the playoffs in all five seasons he played there.
“I wasn’t a guy who looked to score first,” Kidd said in the radio interview. “It was to get your teammates involved, to understand time and clock management and having fun with your teammates.”
Steve Kerr, a former N.B.A. player and executive who is now an analyst for TNT, said: “What impresses me the most is he went from in his prime being the flashiest passer in the league — much like Magic Johnson — to becoming one of the most efficient passers in the league in terms of generating ball movement. It’s interesting that he had that kind of range. His passing was always making an impact.”
But perhaps Kidd’s biggest, and most surprising, transformation was in becoming a reliable shooter from the perimeter. He is third on the career list for 3-point baskets, with 1,988.
“Early in his career, you’d give him a 3-pointer,” Kerr said, “and later, he was a killer from there. He has a brilliant basketball mind. He figured out things and how to battle age. He morphed into a totally different player.”
Although Kidd displayed class and composure on the court, his behavior off it could be more unpredictable.
Soon after he signed with the Knicks, Kidd was charged with drunken driving after crashing his vehicle into a telephone pole on Long Island. In 2001, when he was with Phoenix, Kidd was charged with domestic assault after he acknowledged striking his wife, Joumana. The charges were dropped as part of a plea deal in which Kidd agreed to counseling. The two divorced in 2007.
The Knicks wanted Kidd for his influence on the court and in the locker room, and the team benefited from his savvy. Carmelo Anthony and Smith said Kidd’s pass-first mentality helped them play smarter.
Kidd’s retirement will give the Knicks a chance to become younger after using the oldest roster in N.B.A. history last season. They will also receive modest payroll relief.
As part of his decision, Kidd has agreed to forgo the final two years of his contract, which means his $3.09 million salary will be removed from the Knicks’ cap figure. However, the Knicks will still be far over the cap and almost certainly over the luxury-tax threshold, barring a major payroll reduction. That means they will be subject to a ban on acquiring players via sign-and-trade deals.