Keith Van Horn was a star coming out of the University of Utah. He left the program in 1997 as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Western Athletic Conference after earning consensus First Team All-American honors. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Van Horn with the second pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, subsequently trading him  to the New Jersey Nets that same night. However, his trade to the Nets from the Dallas Mavericks in 2008 as part of the Jason Kidd deal is the reason for our article.

Van Horn led the Nets in scoring during the 1997-98 and 1998-99, also finishing fifth with in the entire NBA with 21.8 points per game during his sophomore campaign. Though his scoring dropped, Van Horn was one of the main cogs on the 2001-02 Nets team that went to the NBA Finals with Kidd leading the way. He was also the sixth man on Dallas' run to the 2005 NBA finals.

Van Horn finished his career averaging 16 points and almost seven rebounds per game.

The Jason Kidd-Keith Van Horn trade

Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd (2) looks to set the play as Golden State Warriors small forward Richard Jefferson (44) defends during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Warriors 104-94.
© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Van Horn retired from the NBA when he was 30. The Mavericks fell to the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, prompting Van Horn to hang up his sneakers to spend time with his family. Two years later, Mark Cuban was trying to work out a blockbuster trade to acquire Kidd from the Nets, but Dallas didn't have enough matching salary on the roster to facilitate the deal.

As a result, the Mavericks used their rights to Van Horn to ink him into a three-year deal with only the first season guaranteed. The NBA approved the trade, but Van Horn didn't play a minute for the Nets. The team essentially gave him $4.3 million to claim he was coming out of retirement to play.

The Mavericks used a similar situation as inspiration for the idea. Just a couple weeks earlier, the Los Angeles Lakers called on retired Aaron McKie to complete the trade that landed them Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. The only thing Van Horn had to do was report to New Jersey to undergo a physical since that would constitute reporting to the team. It would turn into one of the most profitable physicals ever with the $4.3 million price tag being given to Van Horn.

The final parameters of the trade were Dallas sending Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Maurice Ager, Trenton Hassell, Van Horn and two first-round picks to New Jersey for Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen.

Deal pays off with Dallas' only title

It took a while for the Kidd trade to pay off. The Mavericks only secured the seventh seed in the 2008 playoffs, losing to Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets in the first round. They advanced further the following year, upsetting the San Antonio Spurs in the first round but then losing to the Denver Nuggets.

The Mavericks took a step back in 2009-10, losing again in the first round when the Spurs avenged their loss from the previous season. However, Mark Cuban's boldness finally paid off in the 2010-11 season.

The NBA was in the middle of the Big Three era, with LeBron James teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat. The Mavericks had their best regular season yet, going 57-25, and advanced to the NBA Finals. Kidd led the Mavericks against that stacked Heat roster alongside Dirk Nowitzki, becoming the oldest starting point guard to lead his team to the NBA championship.

It took a while, but the trade of Keith Van Horn from the Mavericks became one of Cuban's shrewdest moves.