Stephen Jackson didn’t give me the exclusive exit interview he promised. But he did talk to the Charlotte Observer before tonight’s game against Orlando:
Happy about the trade?
JACKSON: “I’m happy because it gives me a chance to compete, it gives me a chance to be where I want to be and that’s the playoffs where I belong. I don’t belong being at home at the end of April, watching the playoffs. I belong in the playoffs and I have a good chance here with a great team, a team that competes, and the type of coach I like — who has your back. If a coach has my back, I don’t mind giving 110 percent for him.”
How badly did you want to be out of Golden State?
“I wanted to be out pretty bad. Things were going bad and I was getting blamed for everything. I wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with the team. I got fined in preseason for one-hundred-and-some thousand. It was a lot of things that I didn’t agree with going on from when I got there. We made history by beating Dallas in the first round. Then things started getting worse and winning stopped being a priority. Once winning stopped being a priority, I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
Describe the decline of the Warriors
“It started when we got rid of Jason Richardson and then the next thing you know, it was Baron (Davis) And then it was Al Harrington and Matt Barnes. The team that we had when we made that run, that beat Dallas in the first round, went South. Once it started doing that, I didn’t want to be a part of it.
“As great as we played — the Warriors hadn’t been in the playoffs in 13 years — if you want to break that team up, obviously winning is not your priority.”
The Bobcats have never been to the playoffs. Can you handle them not making the playoffs this season?
“Yeah, because I know the effort and attitude is there. Any time you have a guy running the team like Rod Higgins — who I know well, that’s the reason I went to Golden State — those guys are competitors and they want to win. Those are the type of people I want running a team that I play for.”
Warriors general manager Larry Riley sent disgruntled swingman Stephen Jackson to Charlotte, along with Acie Law, for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.
The Warriors get three things they wanted in this deal: move Jackson, save money, players who can help.
Jackson heads to the Eastern Conference and doesn’t help keep the Warriors out of the playoffs. Plus, guard Monta Ellis gets to take over the leadership role without Jackson’s influence (something the organization was worried about).
The Warriors save about $5 million next year, more than $21 million overall. Raja Bell has one year left on his deal (this year) for $5.25 million, so the Warriors gain $3 million in expiring contracts (as Law has one year left for $2.2 million). Vladimir Radmanovic has this year for $6.5 million and a player option for next year at $6.88 million. So next year, when Jax was slated to make $8.45 million, the Warriors will be paying $1.6 million less than originally planned. Not to mention, the Warriors are completely free of the $19.32 million Jackson was set to earn in 2011-12, 2012-13. All totaled, that’s a savings of roughly $21 million, plus the $3 million extra in expiring contracts they got.
Plus, considering their lack of healthy bodies, the Warriors get two guys who can help. Raja Bell even plays defense. The Warriors will need them to play in Cleveland. They’re down to seven players, six if C.J. Watson can’t play.
Story of the night was obvious. The Warriors got torched by Brandon Jennings.
Guys have big games against the Warriors all the time. But this time, it was a huge number. This time it was a by a rookie point guard, one they could have drafted. The significance can not go understated.
* Most points by a rookie since Earl “The Pearl” dropped 56 in an OT game on Feb. 13, 1968.
* Most points by a player under 21 since LeBron scored 56 in March, 2005.
* Most points by a Bucks rookie, topping Kareem’s 51 on Feb. 21, 1970
* He was a 3-pointer shy – he made 7 of 8 – of tying Wilt’s record for most points by a rookie ever. (Rick Barry had 57 at New York as a rookie in Dec. of 1965
* That was the fifth-most points ever scored against the Warriors. Elgin Baylor had 63 in triple OT (Dec. ’61). Wilt had 62 (when he was with Philly, March ’66). Downtown Freddie Brown had 58 (March ’74). Tom Chambers (Feb. ’90) and Karl Malone (April ’98) each had 56.
Some class Jennings is in.
ACIE LAW: “We were at his mercy. There was nothing we could do.”
Actually, there was something the Warriors could have done.
Warriors swingman Kelenna Azubuike suffered what the team called a “left patella tendon injury.”
Azubuike drove the lane with just over nine minutes left and wound up falling on his back hard. He tried to jump towards the basket but his knee gave out. He immediately reached for his knee and stared at it in shock. From the courtside media view, it looked like his knee cap was off to the side (which suggests a dislocated knee cap).
Azubuike had to be wheel-barreled off the court, his hand shielding his face. The somber of his teammates confirmed the severity of the injury. Azubuike did not go to the hospital. He had his knee imaged at the Bradley Center. It has not been determined how long how long he will be out.
Quick research online shows that a dislocated patella takes about 3 to 5 months to heal. If Azubuike ruptured his patellar tendon, which is the ligament that connects the quadriceps to the shin, he’ll need surgery to repair it. According to some related Web sites, his knee would be casted for six weeks followed by weeks of rehab.
If you’re Stephen Curry, and you’re sitting on the bench all game long, and you’re watching Chris Duhon struggle, and Nate Robinson all over the place, and Toney Douglas put his head down and look to score, would you be longing for New York.
Curry is beloved in New York, and he is needed, and judging by the way Chris Duhon is looking these days, he wouldn’t have to worry about being humiliated by a coach who blindsided him with a bench-warming session.
Everybody knows Curry really wanted to play in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd. Everybody knows he was looking forward to it. And if you didn’t know it, you could tell by the increasing frustration he tried to swallow with each passing minutes.
The hard part for Curry was that he had no idea. He was expecting to play, perhaps even to put up a big game. Next thing you know, his warm-up was still on and the first half was almost done.
I know rookies are just rookies, but it seems Nellie didn’t do team chemistry any favors by how he handled the situation. It would’ve almost been better to just not play him at all. But to reduce him to the scrub at the end of the bench who the crowd solicits in blowout games, that was kind of cold. I’ve been that guy before, so I know the feeling.
Curry hasn’t been playing well, to be sure. But he’s never been that guy. Ever. In the family section after the game, he walked up to some people he knew. And you could hear some sweet older woman say, “Well it’s okay. There’ll be other games for you to play.”
So here is what went down.
Practice ended and players were winding down. Some were shooting. Some were talking. Ellis, Jackson and guard Acie Law were sitting on a bench taking off their hoop shoes, etc. Then Nelson, who had left practice and came back, casually walked by the bench. Monta had a question:
ELLIS: “Coach. Why do I get blamed for everything?”
NELSON: “What have I ever blamed you for?”
ELLIS: “For everything. For everything. For people not knowing the plays. I didn’t do this. I didn’t that.”
Nelson waved both hands at Ellis, as if to brush him off, and walked off shaking his head.
Ellis: “See. That’s why I won’t do it. I just won’t do it.”
Ellis declined to comment after practice, so I have no idea what he won’t do.
Warriors fell 52 points shy of their point total the previous game. That’s a pretty big drop off. Is Indiana at home that much tougher an opponent than the T’wolves at home? Certainly, the Warriors return to selfish ball had something to do with it.
Swingman Stephen Jackson came out gunning, taking five shots in five minutes, missing four. Monta was chucking, too. Azubuike, coming off a 31-point game, wasn’t moving the ball either. And you know Anthony Morrow, who started (more on that), was looking for his shot.
Jackson played 17:56 in the loss to Indiana, where he once played before putting them in the very same situation the Warriors are in now. Jax sat the entire second and fourth quarters. This is a weird situation all around. Here’s how it went down.
Nellie said before the game that Jackson’s hip was bothering him (he also said Corey Maggette’s hamstring was going to keep him out of the lineup. Maggette said after the game his hamstring almost did keep him out). So when Jackson plays just the first 5:56 of the game and sits the rest of the half, the reason was obvious. The hip.
So, I ran into Jackson in the tunnel during halftime.
You’re hip is bothering you?
No? (confused look on his face) Why would you say my hip is bothering me?