Bobcats Crunk It Up a Notch by Trading Raja Bell for Stephen Jackson
The Bobcats surprise everybody but Mark Stein today by trading Raja Bell and Vlad Radmanovic to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson and Acie Law. The Sporting News reaction here. Golden State of Mind reactions here. RealGM analysis here.
I’m literally just back in the door from Hong Kong/Macau and after reviewing almost a full week’s worth of Charlotte Bobcats Bloopers & Practical Jokes, I was 30% sure that I was going to walk away from this blog. Just couldn’t take it anymore. Five years of ineptitude is enough. Time to fire them as my favorite NBA team. Then this happens. To quote Michael Corleone (via Silvio Dante), “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
THE GOOD NEWS IS THE BAD NEWS
First off, the deal stinks of desperation. So it really suits the Bobcats because they ARE desperate and maybe (*fingers crossed*) Bob Johnson is finally coming to the conclusion that a popular Playoff team is more valuable on the open market than an unpopular Disaster-Squad. Jackson is without a doubt an offensive upgrade over Raja Bell and a similarly skilled defender. He’s immediately Charlotte’s most feared scorer (which, to be fair, is kind of like “the most nutritious KFC Bowl”) and he adds a mean streak of attitude to a franchise that’s never had one.
To make the trade, the Bobcats had to provide GS with a salary dump and they send out two decent role players who are owed a total of $18.4 million over the next two seasons in exchange for a 31-year-old wing player who’s on the books for $35.2 million over the next four. The team has essentially taken itself out of free agency until the summer of 2012 and maybe even 2013. Just to put this into perspective, next season the Bobcats will be paying out $40 million to the All-Star core of: Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler & Stephen Jackson. Then add in $13 million for backup centers Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop and you start to see just how bad the Bobcats have been at managing their cap. I can’t figure out who Michael Jordan is patterning his strategy after: Isiah Thomas or the country of Iceland? Or maybe MJ just went to the movies this past weekend and figured that the world was going to end in 2012 anyway, so screw it.
Jackson’s arrival is significant as it is the first time in franchise history that the team has ever courted a player rife with controversy. Could this be a new era in BobcatLand? Are the squeaky clean days of Matt Carroll, Brevin Knight and Emeka Okafor over and gone? While hardcore NBA fans might remember some of SJAX’s more positive attributes, most sports fans are only aware of two:
- Over the past two months Stephen Jackson has thrown his team under the bus and sulked his way into a trade AFTER the Warriors graced him with an extremely generous contract extension.
- On the night of November 19th, 2004 during a game in Detroit, he ran into the stands and punched a bunch of people in the face for assaulting his friend Ron Artest.
*I presume that most fans have forgotten about the incident at an Indianapolis strip club in ’06 in which Jackson fired several shots from a 9mm after being taunted by the clubs patrons and “hit by a car.” That kind of thing happens all the time these days.
I repeat, this is a desperate, risky move by the Bobcats. The organization paid very close attention to its public image during the team’s first five seasons and when they ignored Allen Iverson during the summer, you could assume that they were simply staying the course. The strategy is sound. A great deal of the Charlotte Hornets’ demise can be attributed to a single trade: Larry Johnson for Anthony Mason. In that case, the city was losing an immensely popular hero and gaining a player who was labeled “a thug” but hardly lived up to the reputation. With Jackson, the Bobcats are importing a turbulent personality who lies somewhere in between Steve Smith and Rae Carruth (*I’m purposefully trying to beat Tom Sorenson to the punch with that reference*) and if S-JAX causes any trouble in Charlotte, the hypothetical incident might very well signal the end of the NBA in the Queen City.
Let’s face it. We all went to bed last night knowing that the Bobcats stink. And now? Now there is a glimmer of hope that Stephen Jackson was the only missing ingredient for Playoff Success. At the very least, he’ll make things interesting and if you are going to go down, do it like Bon Jovi told the Young Guns. Go down in a Blaze of Glory.