Stephen Jackson finally got his wish. After enduring nearly two-and-a-half months of negative press for his trade demand, he was dealt to the Charlotte Bobcats yesterday. Almost immediately, you could already see Captain Jackson having a couple of issues with his new destination. One, the winning situation in Charlotte is not too much better than where he came from. And two, he’s going to be coached by Larry Brown.
Literally 10 minutes after the trade made nationwide news, a friend texted me, “When are you going to break the Stephen Jackson wants out of Charlotte story?’ Right now, it is unclear what Charlotte’s intentions are with Jackson. Will they keep him or are they planning on flipping him like we speculated in a post yesterday? If he does stay with the Bobcats, a lot of people could see this potentially ending badly. After all, look at each of their track records. Brown doesn’t have the best history with hard-headed, vocal players like Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson. On the flip side, Jackson had a terrible relationship (at least at the end) with the stubborn Don Nelson. But is Jackson really hard-headed and is Brown really stubborn?
Ever since he went public with his trade demand, Jackson has been labeled the bad guy or the poor teammate or the coach killer. But he never had a problem with Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Larry Brown has clashed with a lot of me-first guys like Steph and A.I., but I think Jackson is different. I don’t think Jackson cares about starting or even doing things his way, his main thing is just winning. Brown is somebody who is tough on players and demands a lot of things from you like playing defense. Jackson is a player who can play D and wants to have structure and discipline in the system he plays in. As much as he loves to jack up threes, he probably grew tired of the free-flowing, no defense, “Nellie Ball” system that they ran in Golden State.
Jackson is on a team where he can be the go-to guy and is surrounded by some quality role players like Boris Diaw, Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton, rather than a bunch of ball-hogging guards like Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette. I don’t see Brown and Jackson having issues, at least this season. Captain Jack’s reputation took a huge hit the past few months so he has to show he is not a cancer. As he learned over the past month, teams weren’t exactly bending over backwards to trade for him. He needs to prove he’s not in the same class of knuckleheads like Marbury and Iverson.
Even though the Bobcats aren’t making the playoffs, they have a lot better chance to be competitive in the short run and the long run. I think Jackson will at least come into the situation with an open mind and see if the Bobcats can compete down the line. He knows Larry Brown has been a winner and might be able to bring the best out of him.
If Charlotte can squeeze out 33-36 wins this season and even be in contention for the eighth seed, Jackson might be open to giving it another season, especially if the Bobcats are aggressive in free agency and draft wisely. If they aren’t in the mix by the end of the year, no question Jackson will want out again. Bottom line is he wants to win. He’s 31 years old and knows he only has a few years left in his prime. I’m doubtful that Charlotte will be contenders anytime soon, so this is obviously not the place for him. But I think next time, he’ll be a little less public when he demands a trade.
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