For Jackson, parting ways only solution
Jackson told Yahoo! Sports on Friday that even if the Warriors made a major trade for a big man to upgrade their roster, he would still want to be traded.
"I've been scarred a lot these last couple of weeks," Jackson said. "I've been handled in a lot of ways that I didn't expect to be handled. You can forgive, but you can't forget. All this stuff is still going to be in my mind. I would embrace it if it did happen, but I wouldn't promise you that it would change my thoughts. I'll definitely embrace it and make the best out of it.
"At this point, I can't see it, I can't see it, I can't see it, I can't see it. At this point, I can't see nothing that will change the way I feel right now."
Jackson was fined $25,000 by the NBA last month after publicly saying he wanted to be traded because he didn't envision the Warriors becoming a contender anytime soon. The team further angered him by suspending him two games without pay – a loss of almost $150,000 – after he cursed coach Don Nelson for not supporting him enough with the officials during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Golden State general manager Larry Riley said the team currently had no strong offers for Jackson.
"We'll be motivated to do something to improve this team," Riley said. "You can't let personal feelings get into it. You have to set some of this stuff aside and do what's best for the Warriors. And if there is something to do what's best for us, we'll do it."
Jackson said that after signing a three-year extension worth about $28 million last season, he was led to believe the Warriors would acquire a talented big man. League sources said Golden State had discussions with the Phoenix Suns about Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) near the draft, but concerns about Stoudemire's health stalled those talks. The Warriors also have reportedly spoken with the Utah Jazz regarding forward Carlos Boozer(notes).
Riley said Jackson was never given a timetable as to when a big addition would come.
"My comment to my players when we talked to them last spring is that we did want to improve the team," Riley said. "I didn't recall putting deadlines on it at all. It may be in February. It may be over the next summer and it may be that some of our guys grow into that player that we are looking for. And that's a real possibility.
"That's how I approached it. I can see how someone could say, 'Help is on the way immediately,' and that's the deal because sometimes things get lost in the conversation."
The Warriors open the regular-season Oct. 28 against Houston. Jackson expects to be in a Golden State uniform opening night – and possibly a lot longer than that – and has pledged to play hard.
"I wouldn't be surprised if I'm here the whole season because I know what I've done for this team and this organization since I've been here," Jackson said. "I wouldn't be surprised. But whether I'm here or somewhere else, I'm going to give my best."
Said Riley: "He's even explained to me that, 'If you take my money in a situation where there is a suspension, that doesn't [go away].' I understand. But I do think that he will go on the practice floor and go into the games and play hard."
Jackson still has four years and $35 million remaining on his contract, which doesn't make him easy to trade. The Warriors have received some interest from teams, but nothing so far that they've deemed a fair-value proposal.
"There are a lot of teams that Stephen Jackson fits in good with," Jackson said. "I'm a missing piece to a lot of teams. The bigger issue is it being even. There aren't many players that play on both ends and average 20 points. I'm rare. I'm not saying I'm the best in the business, but I can play with anybody on any night. I play on both ends.
"Some people think [my contract] is difficult to move. I think it could happen. But it has to be a situation [that works] for everyone involved."
Jackson was ecstatic when he signed his extension with the Warriors on Nov. 17. At the time, he said it felt good to be "wanted and appreciated" from an organization that "embraced him." He thanked Nelson and others in the organization.
"The organization has put me in a position to succeed, and for that I will be forever grateful," Jackson said then. "I am looking forward to the next several years, helping this young team win and providing veteran leadership."
On the day Jackson signed his extension, guard Monta Ellis(notes) was injured and the Warriors were 4-6. With Baron Davis(notes) and Jason Richardson(notes) – both of whom had helped Jackson guide the Warriors into the second round of the playoffs in 2007 – gone, the franchise had already begun its youth movement.
Jackson could have turned down the extension and became a free agent after this season in hopes of joining a championship-caliber team. Instead, he says he signed the contract because he felt he earned it; it was too lucrative to reject. He foresaw Ellis returning to health this season and had a "good feeling we were going to make a big move during the summer" to acquire a "key big-man scorer."
"Who is going to turn down three years and $30 million?" Jackson said. "I was born at night, but not last night. I wasn't going to turn that money down. But at the same time, I was thinking they were going to bring other guys in to bring us back to the playoffs. That was my thought at the time.
"By signing me at that time, I thought things were going in the right direction to get this organization back to where we were when we had B.D. and Jason Richardson. Ever since then, things have changed. We didn't get any big names, which that's not my job. I just figured we'd come in here with a more veteran team fighting, knowing that we'd be in the playoffs. We are in a position where we still have to work and things are still up in the air."
Jackson will return to the starting lineup Saturday night in Sacramento in his first game since serving the suspension. Nelson said Jackson has been professional since returning to practice. Jackson's punishment came after he verbally abused Nelson after being taken out of an exhibition game against the Lakers a week ago in which he had five fouls and a technical in less than 10 minutes.
"That had nothing to do with the trade [request]," Jackson said. "Obviously, I got off to a bad start and I thought Kobe [Bryant] was getting away with some things that I'd never get away with. … I just felt that me and him weren't playing the same type of basketball.
"I felt I was playing the right way and he wasn't and I was being mistreated. I said something about it. I handled it the wrong way and coach sent me to the locker room. But that had nothing to do with me wanting to be traded."
The Warriors are loaded with young, promising talent in Ellis, Anthony Randolph(notes), Andris Biedrins(notes), Anthony Morrow(notes) and promising rookie Stephen Curry(notes). While Jackson acknowledged the Warriors are improved, he wasn't ready to proclaim them a potential playoff caliber team.
"I'm not going to jump the gun," Jackson said. "But I will say that we are way ahead than we were at this time last year. Its just preseason, but I'm not going to say we're a playoff team. I pray to God that we are and I think anything's possible."
Jackson expressed his trade request during an event in New York on Aug. 28. He said he wanted to be dealt to Cleveland, New York or one of the three Texas teams.
"It wasn't purposely said, but eventually it was going to be said," Jackson said. "&helip; It was going to come out whether I went public with it or another way. It was going to be said sooner or later. I knew the fine was coming. I was willing to deal with that.
"I'm not saying it was premeditated. But at the same time, it was on my mind."
Jackson won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. He said his dreams of another ring are fueling his fire for a trade, and he is confused as to why fans can't understand that.
"I play this game to win," Jackson said. "If any fan wants a guy that wants to make money and not win games, what kind of fan are you? You should want guys that respect the game and want to win.
"That's what I've always been about. It was a different experience because you felt the winning attitude. Everybody was together. It wasn't the [front] office against the core players in San Antonio. Everyone was on the same page. It was easy to win because everyone had the same goal, to win. I think every organization should be like that."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson and new forward Ron Artest(notes) recently likened Stephen Jackson's trade plea to when Bryant made a similar request in the summer of 2007. While Jackson was fined for his words, Bryant wasn't. The Lakers eventually appeased Bryant by acquiring Pau Gasol(notes).
"The biggest thing was they made moves," Stephen Jackson said. "The Lakers made moves. They got Gasol. Even this year, they got Ron. Kobe can't complain.
"Last year, it was hard on me because Monta wasn't there, Corey [Maggette] was hurt a lot. It basically seemed like, 'Well, we need help. We see we need help.' "