Jason Kidd insisted a migraine caused him to miss a New Jersey Nets game, brushing aside reports he was staging a personal 1-day strike to induce a trade or force a new contract.

"I didn't miss a game due to unhappiness, that's the first thing to clear up," the All-Star guard said yesterday at a news conference.

Kidd said he was hit in the mouth Tuesday in a game against Cleveland, and he later developed a migraine. He missed Wednesday's loss to the New York Knicks.

His unexpected absence created instant headlines.

A source told the New York Post that Kidd was "on strike." Yahoo reported that he was looking to be traded to Cleveland to play with LeBron James. There also were reports that Kidd wanted his contract renegotiated.

Kidd insisted he never asked to be traded, noting recent comments he made about playing with James and Kobe Bryant were just no-brainer answers to questions posed about whether he would like to play with them at some point.

"I am having one of my best seasons," Kidd said. "Why would I want to be asked to be traded?"

Noteworthy

* The Knicks' struggles on and off the court didn't keep the team from remaining the NBA's most valuable franchise for the third straight year, according to a list compiled by Forbes. The Knicks were valued at $604 million, up 3 percent from the previous year despite a spate of losing, an embarrassing defeat in a sexual harassment lawsuit, and continuing questions about the future of coach Isiah Thomas.

The Los Angeles Lakers decreased in value 2 percent, down to $560 million from $568 million, but remained second on the list. The Chicago Bulls were third with a value of $500 million and a league-best $59.3 million in operating income. The complete list of NBA franchises will appear on the magazine's Web site, Forbes.com.

* Minnesota coach Randy Wittman could return early next week after undergoing back surgery on Wednesday, according to acting head coach Jerry Sichting.

* A standing-room-only crowd that included current and former NBA players packed the funeral for Knicks guard Stephon Marbury's father, Don Marbury, who died Sunday night.

In games last night:

* At Atlanta, Joe Johnson had 21 points, including an 18-footer at the buzzer, to lift the Hawks to a 90-89 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Josh Smith led Atlanta with 28 points. Craig Smith's 20 points led the Timberwolves.

* At Dallas, Allen Iverson scored 35 points to lead the Denver Nuggets over the Mavericks, 122-109. Iverson, who scored 51 in a loss to the Lakers Wednesday, shot 12-for-19 from the field (63.2 percent).

The coaches - Dallas' Avery Johnson and Denver's George Karl reluctantly became the first to wear microphones under a new league rule aimed at taking fans a step closer to the action whenever TNT, ESPN or ABC nationally televise games. *