The aging San Antonio Spurs are looking to win yet another championship and at this year's trade deadline, they re-acquired a man who played a big role in their 2003 NBA title. In a move that cost them a conditional first-round pick and Richard Jefferson, the team brought back shooting guard Stephen Jackson.
That's right, dear readers. The Spurs traded for a known volatile player who while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks this year, fell out with coach Scott Skiles and was basically benched until GM John Hammond was able to trade him. Still, they chose to take a chance on him and use him as what they hope is the missing piece to another Larry O'Brien trophy.
Since his return to the Lone Star State, Jackson has fully embraced his role as a bench shooter and though he's only averaging 10.4 points per game through five games, he has shot nearly 37 percent from three-point range and appears happy for the first time this season. More importantly, he actually looks motivated.
To be honest, this is not at all a surprise. Spurs captain Tim Duncan has called Jackson the "ultimate teammate" and given his output off the bench, Jackson really has been just that. In a victory against the Dallas Mavericks on March 23, he pulled down eight rebounds. To see him do anything besides score points is pretty incredible.
How would you grade the Spurs' trade for Stephen Jackson?
Yet, most important of all, the trade has been great for the Spurs. Since making the deal on March 15 and Jackson's first game back with them two days later, they have won six of their last seven games and hold a comfortable six-and-a-half-game lead over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in the Southwest Division. Sure, the team is old, but Jackson's drive and desire to win can only be a good thing.
Thus, there's only one grade that we can give the Spurs for making this deal: A-plus. The team needed to get rid of Jefferson's compulsive shooting and got a great fit in Jackson, who knows the team and the fans well along with the fact that he can usually create his own shot. This year has been one of the worst of his career thus far but now that he's actually happy, perhaps he can close out the regular season with a bang.
Even if the Spurs don't win a title this year, they definitely need to sign Jackson to a new contract because as he exhibited in his first year with the team, he's just too good for the locker room. Here is a team that's used to winning and after last year's embarrassing playoff exit, Jackson could easily teach them how to win it all again.