Larry Bird said early in the off season that two of their goals were to create a team that was fun to watch, and to have players that the fans like. You can make an argument that so far he may have accomplished goal number one. This is only the preseason and the Pacers are 1-2. Despite their record they have shown that they are a much quicker team that can run up and down the floor. Theyíve also shown the ability to create turnovers on the defensive end, something they werenít too good at last season.
Itís only the preseason, so itís a bit unfair to look down on this team and its 1-2 record. However, itís not unfair to overlook the fact that the other part of Birdís promise has not been kept. Itís become obvious in the first three meaningless preseason games that Stephen Jackson isnít exactly a player the fans like, and now after the strip club incident, itís going to be hard for him get rid of the guy the fans donít like.
Thereís only three ways it can happen. 1.) We take a slightly unfair trade that gives us a player thatís overpaid in return. 2.) We bench him with pay for as long as necessary until we can move him via trade. 3.) We release him from his contract once he is convicted and given jail time. Thereís also the option of negotiating a buy-out of his contract.
This might be a more frustrating situation for the fans than last years Artest trade saga. At least with the Artest situation you had a player that nobody questioned on the court, had all the talent in the world, but had just worn out his welcome, and lost all the trust of the people in Indiana. With Jackson, you have a guy whoís on-court decisions are questioned, whines to officials, and is now facing the possibility of doing some jail time for his troubles off the court.
I strongly believe Jacksonís every intention coming in was to show everybody just how good of a guy he can be. He wanted to erase the past and work on having a successful and bright future in Indiana. One bad decision at a strip club blew any chance he had at redemption.
Now the question is, what the heck do Bird, Walsh, Carlisle & Co. do to get this guy out of town? The only way I see it happening is via trade. Whoís dumb enough to take on Jackson and his problems you ask? Well, who knows.
First, this is no situation where Bird and Co. can hold off for maximum value in return. It just wonít happen here. If you want to find a positive in the situation, we wouldnít be getting rid of Jackson for nothing no matter what. Why? Because the guy we traded to get him is back on the roster again. Having a guy you traded a few seasons ago back on your roster, in addition to the guy you got in return for him, can only be seen as a positive.
The previous paragraph was a setup for the following. What we get in return for Jackson will be quite lopsided. We might have to take on a player that might be a risk in return. Or we might take on a guy thatís overpaid. I did a search for teams that might have somebody theyíd probably like to move, that could also benefit from a having a guy with the toughness of a Stephen Jackson on their team. Ready? Hereís what I came up with:
This trade makes even more sense with the news that the Knicksí Jared Jeffries is out with a broken wrist. Itís a bad contract for the Pacers to take, but at least it gives us a player that would be hard for fans to dislike. Heíd also give the Pacers a decent threat from the outside Ė more threatening than Jackson [no pun intended].
The Knicks can benefit from Jacksonís toughness on the court combined with his durability. That would be something they havenít had much of since John Starks. His attitude might actually bring out the best in guys like Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis. He might actually have a long shot at becoming a team leader thereÖ Did I just say that?
Regardless of that happens, something needs to be done. Iím a Stephen Jackson fan, and I want to see him succeed, but itís blatantly obvious that it wonít happen here. Itís time to close this chapter and start working those phones before the season gets started. At this point, the team is much better off without him.