Harrington, Jackson at heart of Pacers-Warriors deal

Updated: January 18, 2007, 1:18 AM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Almost every player involved in the Indiana Pacers' eight-man trade with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday is likely to welcome the change of scenery.

Al Harrington
Harrington

Stephen Jackson
Jackson

The Pacers traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to Golden State for forwards Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy in a large, bold deal to shake up two struggling teams.

The Pacers also sent guard Sarunas Jasikevicius and forward Josh Powell to the Warriors, who gave up forward Ike Diogu and guard Keith McLeod. According to Chris Mullin, the Warriors' vice president and a former player for both teams, the wholesale shuffle will benefit everyone involved.

"This is a situation where both teams feel good about what's going to happen," Mullin said. "They're all key components. All these guys that are in the deal, they're going to have good roles with their new teams."

Murphy, Dunleavy and Diogu had been reduced to high-priced backups for failing to produce more in new coach Don Nelson's offensive-minded system. Both Murphy and Dunleavy have hefty contracts that allowed Golden State to finish the deal with significantly less financial impact than the Pacers.

Hollinger's take
John Hollinger
Acquiring Ike Diogu from the Warriors makes this trade a winner for the Pacers, writes John Hollinger.

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Harrington, the most accomplished player in the trade, struggled to get comfortable alongside Jermaine O'Neal in his first season back with Indiana. Meanwhile, Jackson has been dogged by legal troubles and attitude problems all season, embarrassing the club with an early season fight at a strip club and a spat with coach Rick Carlisle last month.

"I think he was in a difficult environment for him," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said of Jackson, who averaged 14.1 points this season. "No matter what he was going to do, he wasn't going to outlive that environment. So I think it's good for him to go to another city and start fresh, and I think it's good for our team as well."

The deal left injury-plagued Golden State with just six healthy players on its roster for Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers -- two fewer than the NBA minimum required to avoid forfeiting a game. The Warriors quickly signed NBA Development League forward Renaldo Major a 10-day contract, and they planned to suit up injured center Adonal Foyle to avoid the forfeit.

Harrington was one of the Warriors' top targets in free agency last season, but went back to Indiana -- where he started his career -- in a sign-and-trade deal with Atlanta. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds this season, second on the team in both categories to O'Neal, who plays much the same position.

"That's the heartbreak in it," Walsh said. "He would have fit in here, but he was playing [small forward] more than he was playing [power forward]. I'm not sure he's a good fit at [power forward] with Jermaine. When you really looked at it, I don't know if the two players complemented each other as well as we thought they could."

Murphy, a former Notre Dame star battling injuries this season, is averaging 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds -- both his lowest totals since his rookie year. Dunleavy, the No. 3 overall pick from Duke in 2002, has scored 11.4 points in another disappointing season, so the deal rids the Warriors of three players who didn't fit with Nelson's ideas.

Mullin signed Dunleavy and Murphy to contract extensions -- still worth more than $80 million -- before he hired Nelson.

The Warriors pursued Harrington because the rangy forward should fit their new style of play.

Mike Dunleavy
Dunleavy

Ike Diogu
Diogu

"Al is a guy we've looked at for a while," Mullin said. "Al is a guy that's probably a lot stronger than people know. He can guard his man in the post if need be. He's gotten better over the years."

Jackson has a sharp outside shot, but has been almost nothing but trouble for the Pacers since his involvement in that infamous brawl in the stands at Detroit two years ago. He was involved in a fight outside an Indianapolis strip club on Oct. 6, and is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 12 for firing a gun during the fracas.

"We feel strongly that a lot of those things are behind Stephen, and he's looking to come here, win games and focus on his basketball career," Mullin said.

Matthew Symons, spokesman for the Marion County prosecutor, said the trade will not affect Jackson's court case. Mullin said the Warriors will support Jackson's legal needs.

Last month, the Pacers briefly suspended Jackson for a heated exchange with Carlisle, who kicked him off the bench during a loss to Cleveland. The Warriors' last look at Jackson was impressive, however: Earlier this season, Jackson hit a 3-pointer with 1 second left in a 108-106 victory at Golden State.

The Warriors were keen to acquire Jasikevicius, a Lithuanian who failed to meet high expectations in Indiana. Powell was traded to Indiana last summer after his rookie season with Dallas, and his smooth game also could fit well with Nelson's up-tempo style.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press