Jackson has to go, but who wants him?
By Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Columnist
Posted: 10/14/2009 09:55:49 PM PDT
Updated: 10/15/2009 03:53:34 AM PDT
They can try to trade Stephen Jackson to Dallas for junk and problems. Or to Cleveland for other problems and other junk.
If the Warriors can't do either, then waive him, send him home or buy him out entirely.
Those are the last viable options for the Warriors and Jackson, who have 35.5 million reasons to wonder what the hell they have gotten themselves into here.
It's the immovable contract meeting the irresistible farce.
Basically: How can the Warriors trade Jackson if they're the only team gullible enough to commit so much money to such a flammable player?
But they do have to move him. That's not up for debate.
"We're still going to try to accommodate him," coach Don Nelson tepidly said this week of Jackson's trade wish. "But it's not that easy to do."
No lie. For now, to build trade value, the team and player would benefit immensely from a cease-fire.
But even if both sides act like angels, the Warriors almost certainly will have only one or two mildly interested parties — I'm guessing just Cleveland and Dallas, but maybe neither.
Plus, the Warriors are guaranteed to be offered little to nothing of true value in return.
"I don't think it's hard," said Jackson, who is owed $35.5 million for the next four seasons. "I know there's a lot of teams that want me . . .
"I can play the game. I don't know exactly what the conversations are, but I don't think it's as hard as those
people say it is."
Sorry, Stephen, you're less tradeable than even Memphis forward Zach Randolph, a loopy soul who happens to have a shorter contract, plays a more important position and is several years younger.
For now, NBA sources say that the Warriors are highly motivated to trade Jackson but have only received laughable offers — lousy teams looking to dump gargantuan contracts.
The No. 1 and maybe the only realistic goal for Robert Rowell, Larry Riley and crew: Do not duplicate what the Warriors did in 1999 when they panicked and sent Latrell Sprewell to the New York Knicks for multiple foul contracts.
Of course, to avoid a bad-for-worse trade, the Warriors could soon weigh walking away from Jackson.
They can do that by suspending him indefinitely (with pay), by finding a reason to suspend him without pay (which the union will challenge) or by entering discussions about a devastating 90-percent buyout.
Let's consider a buyout the team's last, desperate resort, depending on Jackson's actions and the Warriors' ability to brush them off.
Let's analyze the trade atmosphere. Jackson has named Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and NewYork as preferred destinations, and it's very safe to say that this is the totality of likely options.
We can eliminate the Knicks, because they're not going to take on Jackson's long-term salary, and Houston, because Yao Ming's injury means the Rockets are rebuilding.
We can cross out the Spurs, because they are the NBA's smartest fiscal team and just acquired a better, younger wing — Richard Jefferson.
So unless there's a major injury on a contending team, the list is down to two contenders: Only Dallas and Cleveland could take on Jackson's salary and personality and believe they're worth the trouble.
If it's Dallas, the best package might be the troubled Shawne Williams and an add-in such as Kris Humphries. (It wouldn't include Josh Howard, who is too valuable as an expiring contract.)
If it's Cleveland, a possible combination might be the troubled Delonte West plus a series of add-ins. (It wouldn't include center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has an expiring contract and might be needed to back up Shaquille O'Neal.)
We can theoretically include New Orleans, if the Hornets want to get out of Peja Stojakovic's remaining $29.3 million through next season. But Jackson's salary doesn't match, which seriously complicates any trade talks.
Oh, there's one man out there with a history of taking on Jackson-like deals. But unfortunately for the Warriors, Isiah Thomas isn't allowed to make trades at Florida International.
If FIU needs a new athletic director, the Warriors' team president might be an ideal candidate. Rowell and Isiah would be an incomparable tandem.