On Tuesday night, the Warriors finally acquired wingman Stephen Jackson. Yes, after all these weeks, months and years of talk of trying to make a big splash in the trade market, Golden State sent away its most talented player, Monta Ellis, for a 33-year-old small forward who they traded away to the Charlotte Bobcats back in November of 2009.
Oh, yeah. It is true that the Warriors did also receive a big man, Andrew Bogut, in the Monday trade. He was the centerpiece of the whole deal. And it’s also true Golden State sent away Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee—but the player to focus on in this (or)deal is indeed Jackson.
After all, Bogut is injured, most likely out for the remainder of the season after sustaining an ankle fracture back in January. Unless the NBA starts allowing 14 teams per conference into the playoffs, the new Warriors center will be resting, recovering and rehabbing for the 2012-13 season.
Which brings us back to Jackson, or Captain Jack as he was formerly referred to during his previous Golden State stint, when he captained the perennially ramshackle franchise to the "We Believe" playoff run in 2007. It was the team’s first appearance in the postseason in 13 seasons, and it was a remarkable short-lived era. The Warriors broke up the band and have been back to their normal selves since—yearly listlessness, lack of identity and losses, which leads to annual languishment in the NBA lottery.
When the Warriors acquired him back in 2007, he was brought in to provide some leadership and playoff experience to a young ballclub that was starving for veteran guidance. Sound familiar? Now Jackson is back with Golden State, part of a We Believe redux.
Though he has never been an All-Star, there is no questioning Jackson’s passion and hunger for the game of basketball, and his will to win is exemplified by his on-court emotional outbursts. Even his off-court tantrums are the result of his desire to play for winning teams.
Unfortunately, the current state of the Warriors is not so golden. The Dubs' roster is chock-full of baby-faced youngsters who have yet to experience what it’s like to win on a consistent basis. Heck, they don’t even know what winning semi-consistently feels like. But will having a fiery competitor such as Jackson spark some energy into a club that goes through lengthy periods of lethargy during games?
Moreover, will Jackson even be a Warrior beyond the March 15th trading deadline?
Reports from SFGate.com suggest that the Warriors will probably not be able to move Jackson’s attitude—and contract—by the time the deadline passes. Thus, the Dubs will have to settle in trying to coax Jackson into buying into the rebuild next season—or simply buy him out. Whispers from Golden State indicate that Jackson will likely play out the season and see what happens in the short-term future.
Can he be of service to Golden State in the interim? Can he be a part of a renaissance rebirth of the "We Believe" blueprint?
A tenacious leader and defender, Jackson would not have to dominate the ball the way Ellis did when he tried in vain to carry the team all by his lonesome. Instead, Jackson can play on the wing and co-facilitate through the post; defensively, he can guard anybody who plays the perimeter. Yes, the captain jacks up a ton of threes, but he keeps opposing teams honest by having the old “never seen a shot he didn’t like” weapon in his arsenal.
As it stands now, the Warriors actually need Jackson to fill out its empty roster. With Ellis and Udoh now departed, point guard Stephen Curry nursing a hobbled right ankle again this season and Bogut not capable of playing for the rest of the season, Jackson does need to focus on being a Warrior again, whether he likes it or not.
More importantly, whether the Warriors fans like it or not, Jackson is back in Golden State. Let’s see if he can reinvigorate the team and replicate the magic from his first tenure with the Warriors. He just might make the team interesting.
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