Stephen Jackson has been rescued from Golden State, and he's going from playing for one hard-to-please, curmudgeonly coach to another.
The Warriors obliged Jackson's trade request Monday, sending the disgruntled swingman to the Bobcats along with Acie Law for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic. The deal resolves one of many complicated plotlines for the tumultuous Warriors, but leaves several others still unsettled.
Jackson was miserable with the Warriors, despite having been rewarded with a three-year, $28 million extension that kicks in next season. Jackson and Monta Ellis, who was even more richly appeased with a $66 million deal two summers ago, believe Warriors management failed to deliver on promises to add a veteran, playoff-caliber supporting cast this past offseason.
The arrangement with Charlotte put a crimp in the Cavaliers' plans to add more scoring punch to their lineup via Jackson; several members of the Cavs organization have a history with S-Jax and believe that could've tamed his wild side, a task that now falls to that noted lover of reclamation projects, Larry Brown. It also avoids what would've been a circus-like atmosphere Tuesday night, when the Warriors pay a visit to the Cavs.
UPDATE: The removal of Jackson lowers the volume on the circus music emanating from the Warriors for the time being. As CBSSports.com reported Friday, an alternative to an imminent Jackson trade that gained renewed traction last week was a scenario that would've seen coach Don Nelson step into a consultant role with lead assistant Keith Smart taking over the head coaching duties. Despite denials from team president Robert Rowell, who was scheduled to meet with Nelson after the team's current road trip to discuss the direction of the team, the rise of Smart to the first seat on the bench is an option that has been contemplated since last season. In fact, Smart already has been assured that he is Nelson's heir apparent, according to three people familiar with the situation.
One of the sources with knowledge of the team's plans to address the chaos generated by Nelson's rifts with Jackson and Ellis said Sunday that the possibility of accelerating Smart's takeover emerged as an agenda item around the middle of last week. Nelson, who has vowed to honor the two-year, $12 million extension he signed this past summer, was in full control of that scenario, added a source who said the timing of any handoff to Smart would be Nellie's call. Nelson, who is 20 victories away from becoming the NBA's all-time winningest coach, would still be honoring his contract even if he'd concluded that it was time for Smart to take over.
Concerns that airing Nelson's plans would hinder the team's efforts to trade Jackson are now moot. Thus, the coaching succession plan will likely return to the back burner. But one transfer of power will occur without delay: Ellis taking over Jackson's role as the team's disgruntled star.
UPDATE: Why does Charlotte do this trade? Beats me. Why does a Brown-coached team do any trade, besides for the fun of having to someday undo it? Here's one theory: Vlad-Rad's contract is much worse than Jackson's; at least with Jackson, you get a productive player for $10 million a year. The Warriors are now stuck with Radmanovic's $6.9 million next season, though Bell's $5.3 million comes off the books in '10-'11.
More importantly, where were the Cavs in all of this? All indications point to the fact that Jackson was Danny Ferry's for the taking, and he opted not to be a taker.