Thursday, November 5, 2009
Don't forget Bobcats in Stephen Jackson sweepstakes
By Marc Stein
It's been about a week since we had any certifiable chatter to pass along on the Stephen Jackson trade front. That's not because the Warriors have slowed the search for trade partners -- to the contrary -- but because the most interested parties (Cleveland and Denver) are generally high-payroll teams that can't easily absorb Jackson's long-term contract. The Cavs and the Nuggets, furthermore, just aren't teeming with tradeable (and available) assets to hook Golden State.
What we can confirm, though, is that Charlotte has to be mentioned more prominently on the list of interested suitors. We've briefly noted the Bobcats' interest in a couple of previous entries, but further checking reveals that the Bobs have seriously explored the prospect of trading for Jackson, apparently undaunted by the fact that they weren't mentioned when Jackson announced late in the summer that he wanted to be dealt to Cleveland, New York or one of the three Texas teams.
It remains to be seen how far the Bobcats are willing to go, since taking on Jackson's contract doesn't exactly sound like owner Bob Johnson's kind of move. You figure Charlotte, like Cleveland, would also be asking for Ronny Turiaf in exchange for their willingness to absorb Jackson's three-year extension, which is worth nearly $28 million when it kicks in next season.
But there is some hope here . . . even as we issue the reminder that Golden State is adamant about not trading Turiaf. Unlike Cleveland or Denver, Charlotte actually might have the resources to put a workable deal together before Dec. 15, when players signed as free agents during the summer become eligible to be traded.
Boris Diaw is close to Jackson's price range and has two years left on his contract after this season (worth $18 million) compared to Jackson's three. Could Johnson, whether he's ultimately selling or keeping this franchise, live with taking on only one extra season of salary depending on what else is in the trade? Presumably.
I've also heard from one source close to the situation that the ever-fickle coach is more frustrated than not with Diaw, even though Diaw's good work as a playmaking big man after arriving in Charlotte helped the Bobcats recover from a 7-18 start to win a franchise-record 35 games in Brown's first season.
Charlotte's first choice -- in any deal -- remains moving Nazr Mohammed first, Vladimir Radmanovic second and packaging them together if possible. The Bobcats have been trying to move Mohammed for months and could make a deal with Golden State work cap-wise by combining Mohammed and Radmanovic -- both of whom are earning $6.5 million this season and $6.9 million next season -- for Jackson and the smaller expiring contracts of Acie Law and Devean George.
Yet you shouldn't expect Golden State to settle for anything less than Diaw, whose abilities as a point forward would undoubtedly appeal to Don Nelson. The Warriors continue to transmit the message that they won't rush the process just for the sake of parting with Jackson, preferring to wait until Dec. 15 or maybe even the trade deadline in February in hopes of getting back something of value for a player who, in their view, has been far more productive than problematic when you look at his whole Warriors career.
What could speed things up? Like we've been saying from the start: It's too early in the season for any team in the Jackson mix to feel trade urgency . . . especially scorching-hot Denver. We just might have to be more patient on this one until the urgency has more time to bubble.