Warriors trade disgruntled Jackson to Bobcats
November 16, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. – Stephen Jackson walked into the locker room, took one look at his newly stitched Charlotte Bobcats uniform and smiled.
It wasn’t a Golden State jersey, so he was happy – for now.
The Warriors found a home for the disgruntled swingman Monday, sending him to the Bobcats in a four-player deal that pairs him with coach Larry Brown. The Bobcats traded shooting guard Raja Bell and forward Vladimir Radmanovic to the Warriors for Jackson and guard Acie Law.
“I wanted to be out pretty bad,” Jackson said. “Things were going bad. I was getting blamed for everything. I wasn’t seeing eye to eye with the team. I got fined in preseason, which was ridiculous. It was just a lot of things that I didn’t agree with that was going on.”
The deal gave Jackson his wish: a ticket out of town after his difficult relationship with Warriors coach Don Nelson, who had acknowledged since the season began the team would try to trade him.
“We can get back to playing basketball,” Larry Riley said after his first major move since becoming the Warriors’ general manager. “Our players had done a great job doing everything they could to play through this and not let it be a major distraction. We felt we needed to do this and move on.”
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Jackson was in a hotel room in Milwaukee when he got the call from his agent Monday morning. He immediately hopped on a plane to Orlando and started against the Magic.
Jackson said he was looking forward to playing for Brown, and he didn’t miss a chance to take a parting shot at Nelson when asked what kind of coach he looks for as a player.
“The kind of coach I want that has your back,” Jackson said. “That’s something that’s big to me. If a coach has my back, then I don’t mind playing 110 percent for him.”
Now Brown, the Hall of Famer who has coached numerous difficult players, including Allen Iverson, will get a crack at the talented and polarizing Jackson.
“No matter what Stephen might say to me when I take him out, I’ve heard it before,” Brown said. “As long as they care and as long as they want to get better and are good teammates, I’m OK.”
With managing partner Michael Jordan signing off on the deal, Charlotte takes on Jackson’s contract, which has three years and $28 million left after this season. Golden State inherits Radmanovic’s deal, worth about $13.5 million over this season and next. Bell and Law are in the final year of their contracts.
The 6-foot-8 Jackson gives Charlotte, the NBA’s lowest-scoring team at 82.4 points a game, an immediate offensive boost. He’s averaging 16.6 points in nine games this season, after averaging 20.7 points and 6.5 assists last season.
“He can create a shot for himself, which is something that we desperately need,” Brown said.
But the 31-year-old Jackson also brings plenty of baggage, dating to when he was suspended for going into the stands in Auburn Hills, Mich., in the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004.
He’s been upset with the Warriors since their decline after he helped lead them to the second round of the 2007 playoffs. The NBA fined him $25,000 when he went public with his trade demand in August. He then got into a spat with Nelson during an exhibition game last month, leading to a two-game suspension that cost him about $139,000 in salary. He also relinquished his captain title.
Jackson had named several teams he would like to be traded to, and Charlotte was never one of them. But he said he’s thrilled at the chance because it gives him an opportunity to make the playoffs, even though the Bobcats have never been to the postseason.
“I’m happy because it gives me a chance to compete and it gives me a chance to be where I want to be – and that’s the playoffs, where I belong,” he said. “I don’t belong being home at the end of April. I belong in the playoffs.”
Charlotte said it wasn’t concerned with Jackson’s previous transgressions.
“People’s past are indeed that,” Bobcats GM Rod Higgins said. “Our relationship with him is going to start today.”
The deal came together Sunday night, after the Warriors also had discussions with Cleveland. The Cavaliers were looking for insurance for troubled guard Delonte West, and Jackson was in Indiana when Cleveland coach Mike Brown was an assistant there.
But Riley said “there wasn’t a lot of demand” for Jackson and his high salary, so he’s headed to a struggling team instead of a contender.
“We came to the conclusion this was the best time and found a trade we could be happy with,” Riley said. “We got two players and some salary cap relief.”
The Bobcats said they were sad to see Radmanovic and Bell go, but were excited at the chance to get Jackson.
“We’re still trying to figure things out ourselves, so he shouldn’t disrupt anything,” center Tyson Chandler said.
Golden State gets the 33-year-old Bell, who joins his third team in less than a year after being dealt from Phoenix to Charlotte last December. Bell, averaging 12 points, has been playing hurt this season after deciding to put off surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his left wrist.
Bell also could provide needed veteran leadership on Golden State’s young roster that includes rookie Stephen Curry and second-year pros Anthony Randolph and Anthony Morrow.
The 6-foot-10 Radmanovic was acquired last season in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers and is an outside shooting threat that will give the Warriors more size. He had been miscast this season as Brown had him playing power forward because of depth issues.
Law is averaging 6.2 points, but Brown said he’ll have to fight for minutes in Charlotte’s crowded backcourt.
Brown’s biggest challenge will be getting Jackson to fit into his demanding system after yet another roster shuffle for a team off to a disappointing 3-6 start. The Bobcats have made five trades involving 17 players in 11 months since Brown began his record ninth NBA head coaching job last season.
“Obviously, we gave up a lot,” Brown said. “But getting this guy will at least make our rotations a little bit simpler.”
– AP sportswriters Mike Cranston in Charlotte, N.C., and Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.