Could Jackson Be Headed To The Lakers?
Defensive intensity, toughness, scoring: these are all things Charlotte Bobcats’ guard Stephen Jackson brings to a prospective team. Jackson’s contributions on the court are undeniable, but is his volatile personality worth the headache? Many teams around the league are saying yes to that very question.
Jackson is averaging 23.5 points and shooting 45 percent from the floor over the last eight games and set a season-high with 39 points in a 97-87 with over the Detroit Pistons on Feb. 2. These numbers suggest Jackson is peaking at just the right time for Charlotte to package the grizzled vet, who has averaged nearly 19 points per game this season, but on just 40.8 percent shooting.
Even with Captain Jack peaking, Charlotte has won just three of those eight games, falling a full game out of the eighth and final playoff spot after Wednesday night’s 104-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers, and it appears Jackson is doing more to increase his trade value than pile up victories.
"I don’t know," Jackson said of his future in Charlotte after Saturday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks. "They normally fine me for saying stuff like that. We’ll see what happens. If I’m here, I’m here. If not, I’m going to make it the best wherever I’m at."
Jackson seems to be especially peeved lately, drawing three technical fouls and an ejection in the past three games alone. At 13 T’s for the season, Jackson is just three away from a mandatory one-game suspension.
But, over the course of 10 seasons in the NBA, Jackson has proved to be tough-minded, clutch scorer and hard-nosed defender both during the regular season and in the playoffs. This makes him an attractive trade commodity in general — regardless of his volatility on the court — especially as a second or third option for a contending team. No one has ever questioned Jackson’s desire or will to play the game. In fact, it’s that desire and ferocity that tends to get him into trouble with the officials.
Among the teams rumored to have interest in Jackson are the Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. All three are a lock for the playoffs but, at one point or another, felt like they needed a spark at the guard position.
Sources say Dallas expressed interest in Jackson shortly after Caron Butler went down with a season-ending knee injury in early January. The Mavs interest faded shortly thereafter due to the high price they would have had to pay for the 32-year old shooting guard (Butler’s expiring, cash and a pick was likely the ceiling for Dallas) and now, coming off of a 10-game winning streak, it appears their infatuation with Jackson is over.
In late December it appeared Chicago was interested in the Bobcats’ swingman, but the Bulls purportedly didn’t want to surrender Taj Gibson as a part of the deal to pick up Jackson, and feel there are better, younger options on the market such as the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith and the Grizzlies O.J. Mayo.
The Lakers were rumored to have discussed the prospect of sending the struggling Ron Artest and cash to the Bobcats for Jackson, but now the word is L.A. is trying to swing a trade for Carmelo Anthony.
This is not going to happen.
If Denver refused the reported haul of Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two 1st round picks and Troy Murphy’s expiring from the New Jersey Nets before the start of the season, why would they settle now by dealing ‘Melo for a package centered around an injury-riddled Andrew Bynum?
This is true especially now considering that Anthony has agreed to mull over the Nuggets’ proposed contract extension, which in turn gives Denver even more leverage in any trade negotiations.
Which brings us back to the Bobcats and Jackson. The Lakers could upgrade at the three position by swapping an underachieving Artest — averaging career lows in both points (8.1) and rebounds (3.1) — for a similar player in Jackson that is having a far superior season.
In turn, Charlotte would rid themselves of what seems to be a disgruntled Jackson on a team going nowhere and gain a player in Artest who is just as capable as a scorer and is a better defender than Jackson. Both players would get fresh starts in a new environment, with Artest having the possibility of riding in and leading the Bobcats back into playoff contention.
It’s also widely known that Artest, "specialize[s] in anything that can’t be done," so that has to help, right?
Still, this is a lop-sided trade by any stretch of the imagination. Jackson is a clear upgrade over Artest at small forward for L.A., and the Lakers’ forward doesn’t seem to figure into the plans of a Charlotte team likely looking to go back to the drawing board.
For the Bobcats to consider a trade with Artest and Jackson as the main pieces, Los Angeles would have to take a bloated contract or two from Charlotte [perhaps DeSagana Diop's 2 yrs, nearly $6.5 mill per] or willing to sacrifice a young player in exchange. Shannon Brown would be attractive to the Bobcats because of his age (25), contract (1 year, $2,149,200) and upside, but Brown would have to OK the trade due to his Bird Rights.
One option would be Jackson straight up for Brown and Artest, which works numbers wise, but its unknown whether the Lakers want to give up that much in a package to get Capt. Jack. Los Angeles also has a $5,475,113 trade exception from the Sasha Vujacic trade in mid-December, so that also would seem to broaden the dialogue between the two teams.
It would be a plan B move for the Lakers when they miss out on ‘Melo, but it seems that a trade to Los Angeles would be the only way Jackson moves to a contender by Feb. 24.