The Racine Journal-Times is reporting that veteran shooting guard Stephen Jackson has not been practicing and it is thought that he is unhappy with his contract and wants an extension. Jackson is currently under contract for this year and next year at around $10M per year. He previously wanted to sign an extension with the Bobcats which is partly why they traded him to the Bucks in the first place.
Jackson is 33 years old and probably will not convince any team to sign him to a $10M per year deal for the next three to four years. He just isn't that good anymore. If he is unhappy with his current contract and wants an extension from the Bucks who don't want to give it to him, should the Bulls make a call up to Milwaukee?
Jackson is a big shooting guard who plays above average defense, is a proven reliable scorer and a player who can create his own shot. He can also knock down the three ball to help spread the floor for Derrick Rose. His addition would also allow for the Bulls to move Richard Hamilton to the sixth man role which would be invaluable to the bench depth.
The way I see it, there are two trade options.
First, Chicago talks to Jackson about a four year deal that pays him less money each year. Say, $7M per year for the first two years, a $6M player option for a the third year and a $5M fourth year team option. Jackson would be giving up some guaranteed money upfront under this deal compared to his current two year $10M contract, but he could ultimately make more money on the back-end. The Bulls could then ship Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans to Milwaukee who in turn could then cut Bogans for the savings or keep him to be the backup shooting guard behind Brewer.
If the Bulls have no interest or are unable to extend Jackson's contact, the front office could trade for Jackson with his contact as-is under the impression and with the hope that he will play hard for the Bulls since they are a championship contending team. If Captain Jack realizes that no team is going to extend his current deal and that he can earn the same amount of money playing in Chicago who is a quality team with a true title shot as if he stayed in Milwaukee then he will want the deal to happen.
From what the Racine Journal-Times is reporting, Jackson is unhappy already and the season hasn't even begun. If you are the Bucks and you can move him to the Bulls for a cheaper player and stave off any locker room drama before it harms the season then that is a winning trade. That is where the opportunity presents itself for Chicago.
The Bulls could work out an extension at a reduced salary as illustrated above, or Chicago could make the following two offers to the Bucks.
The first is a fairly straight forward swap. The Bulls would send Korver ($5M) and Brewer ($4.7M) for Jackson ($9.25M). The salaries work out and all the players have two years left on their contracts. If the Bulls pulled off this trade, they would pick up the option of Bogans to be the third shooting guard behind Jackson (starter) and Hamilton (6th man). Check out the trade here.
However, the best scenario for the Bulls would be to trade Korver ($5M), Brewer ($4.7M) and Bogans ($1.7M) to Milwaukee for Jackson and Shaun Livingston ($3.5M). The trade works out with the player salaries and everyone other than Bogans has two years left on their deals.
Why would the Bucks do this trade?
First, it would save them money. Milwaukee could immediately cut Bogans and save cap space right there. Then the joint salaries of Korver and Brewer would only amount to $9.7M, which is cheaper than the $12.75 they would pay Jackson and Livingston. Second, they would successfully cut off the drama with Captain Jack before it becomes a problem and locker room distraction. This is something very important since the season hasn't even begun and with the shortened schedule there isn't time to let Jackson foul up the team chemistry.
Finally, this trade scenario helps even out Milwaukee's roster. They are currently carrying three point guards and only one true shooting guard. Brandon Jennings is the starting point guard and the Bucks are paying Beno Udrich $6.92M per year for the next two years as the backup point guard. Udrich's salary means that Livingston's $3.5M is expendable and that his services really aren't needed especially when considering that Jackson is the only true shooting guard on the team.
Ultimately, the Bulls offer Milwaukee cap relief with Bogans contract (something the Bucks have been working hard to acquire lately) and would give them two shooting guards for the price of a backup point guard and a shooting guard who is already warning you that he is going to be a problem. The biggest issue that I see Milwaukee having with this swap outside of trading to a division rival is the fact that it would add Korver to a team that already has Dunleavy and Delfino who fit the same one dimensional shooter role.
That being said, this trade would work out great for Chicago. It would add another scorer to the Bulls lineup in Jackson who would supplant Hamilton as the starter. That would move Hamilton to the bench where he would represent a very valuable sixth man scorer. He would be the offense off the bench. The Bulls would also pick up Livingston in this trade who add another true ball handler to Chicago's bench. Livingston is a very very big point guard and could play some shooting guard if necessary. He would be an upgrade on Watson and add to the offensive abilities of the second unit.
The Bulls guard lineups before and after the trade would look as follows:
PG: Rose and Watson
SG: Hamilton, Brewer and Korver
PG: Rose, Livingston and Watson
SG: Jackson and Hamilton
The Bulls bench would have much more scoring prowess with Hamilton and Livingston than with Brewer and Watson. Additionally, both Jackson and Livingston are good defenders (the former being better than the later). Jackson is only a slight downgrade on Brewer defensively and Livingston is a solid upgrade over Korver in that department so the Bulls are improving defensively overall. Both Livingston and Jackson are also tall players which would give Chicago more flexibility with its lineups in terms of matching size with size.
If Chicago management is reading the reports coming out of Milwaukee and is willing to make one more move to take the Chicago Bulls to the very top of the NBA then this the opportunity. Obtaining Stephen Jackson from Milwaukee would give Chicago a one two punch at shooting guard of Jackson and Hamilton which would give Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat a run for their money.
This is a trade that should happen if the Bulls are paying attention.