The day the Spurs traded for Stephen Jackson, they won. They had, in effect, subtracted a year of Richard Jefferson’s salary by taking on Jackson. Amnesty for Jefferson wouldn’t have been as financially effective.
The Spurs also thought Jackson might be able to help, but they weren’t counting on it last season. He showed up out of shape for the Milwaukee training camp in the fall of 2011, after all, and was shooting 28 percent from the 3-point line when he arrived in San Antonio.
So what the Spurs got last year from him was a bonus. But the trade did something else. Jefferson’s exit made it easy to give Kawhi Leonard the starting slot he deserved, and made it just as easy to tell Jackson he would be his backup.
Friday came with something similar.
It was also, in part, about Leonard.
Spurs staffers stuck to a company line Friday evening, both in public and private, while trying to explain why they would release a player a week before the playoffs began. “We thought this was best for our group,” Gregg Popovich said for the record.
Off the record, some talked about Jackson’s poor play this season, and one number is the same as it was when he arrived last season. Jackson, again, is shooting 28 percent from the 3-point line.
But it’s not as if the Spurs haven’t had slumping players heading into the playoffs before. So why not keep Jackson, since he’s getting paid no matter? Why not keep someone who could bump with Kevin Durant, who handles playoff pressure well and who might repeat what he did in Game 6 in Oklahoma City?
Then, he tossed in six 3-pointers. “I’m having fun!” Jackson screamed in the second quarter, and few of the Spurs had the same look.
Popovich loved this side of Jackson. When Popovich yelled “I want some nasty” in Game 1 against the Thunder, he wasn’t surprised Jackson was the one who responded... CONTINUE READING HERE