Since Larry Riley was named general manager in May, he has traded away Jamal Crawford's contract and atrocious defense, traded away Marco Belinelli (TBD if this was a good move), drafted the talented young Stephen Curry, and now has freed the Bay Area of Stephen Jackson.
This deal amounts to massive salary cap relief from what was going to be a roster-suffocating three-year, $28 million extension for Jackson that would kick in after this season.
In return for Jackson and Acie Law, the Warriors will receive Raja Bell, who has an expiring contract, and Vladimir Radmonavic, who is owed $6.9 million next season. This means that GS is clearing roughly $21 million off their books.
So the question is: Is Jackson worth $2 million next year and $19 million for the following two years?
Here’s my take: Jackson isn’t worth anything close to $21 million over three years, especially to Golden State. He plays at a position where the Warriors have depth, and the team will now have cap space for the 2011 free agent period and/or for making trades.
Can Jackson score? Yes, but he needs to take a lot of shots to do it, and he's benefited from playing on the league's fastest paced team.
Last season, Jackson finished 19-out-of-21 small forwards that qualified with a paltry .414 shooting percentage. The year before that, he shot an even worse .405.
For a player who is so-so at best when shooting the three, Jackson continually heaves the ball from beyond the arc, and his three-point percentages have taken a steady nose-dive.
Season: three-point percentage, attempts per game
07-08: .363, 6.9
08-09: .338, 5.2
09-10: .275, 4.4
He has shown the ability to pass the ball with his 6.5 assists per game last season and a 15-assist game this season. However, when given the ball as a point forward and play-maker, Jackson uses plenty of his possessions to get his own shot.
In the 08-09 season, Stephen averaged close to 17 shots per game, while this season he’s at roughly 15 shots per game.
The 6'8" forward's rebounding per 40-minute stats are rather unimpressive, especially considering his minutes per game and the Warriors' quick tempo.
Season: minutes per game, R/40
07-08: 39.1, 4.5
08-09: 39.6, 5.3
09-10: 33.3, 4.7
In addition, Jackson is turnover prone.
Season: TOs per game
He's a poor shooter who shoots too much. He passes the ball when he feels like it, and his ball control is inconsistent. For his size, his rebounding is suspect. Jackson’s potency on the offensive end can be summed up in one word: overrated.
There is one part of Jackson’s game that can’t be overlooked though—his lock-down defense. He is quick enough to keep up with shorter forwards and is strong and physical enough to stop players that are his size and taller. To have a player with that type of versatility gives the coach a lot of options when it comes to choosing lineups and defensive matchups.
In contrast, Jackson, 31, is locked in for three more seasons after this one. How forceful of a defensive presence will he be at age 34?
He can be a great team leader, but as evidenced this season, he can also be a terrible one. Publicly blaming your teammates and requesting to be traded isn't what the Warriors were hoping for when handing him a leadership role.
I'm guessing that the majority of Oakland players (and fans) are happy to see him go.
In Raja Bell, we get a a good off-ball scorer, who rebounds well for his size, and is known for his defense. Radmonovic is a decent 6'10" role player, who will likely come off the bench. He can shoot the three and gives the Warriors some much needed interior size. In previous seasons, his rebounding rates weren't great, but this season he has 8.7 rebounds per 40 minutes.
This move makes Monta Ellis' role on the team even more important. His improving court vision and passing game will need to get even better with so few offensive creators on the team.
All things considered, this was a necessary and perceptive deal made by the Warriors front office. It should help with the development of the talented young players, and it frees up cap space for future endeavors.
This move will help in the present and gives optimistic visions of the future.