Warriors' Nelson backs Jackson
Warriors coach Don Nelson told ESPN.com that he has no plans to strip Jackson of his captaincy in the wake of Jackson's recent disclosure that he wants to be traded to Cleveland, New York or one of the three Texas teams.
It has been widely speculated since Jackson's comments that the Warriors would seek to trade him -- less than a year after awarding him a three-year contract extension worth $28 million early last season -- but Nelson confirmed in a brief conversation Monday that "Jack is still my cap."
"I've talked to him," Nelson said as he prepared to travel to Chicago for the annual preseason meeting of the National Basketball Coaches Association.
"I don't anticipate any problems."
Jackson could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
In late August, Jackson told Dime Magazine at an event in New York that he wanted to move to a title contender in spite of the extension he received in November with nearly two full seasons to run on his current contract.
Nelson, though, ignored skeptics when he installed the emotional swingman as a captain last season in the wake of Baron Davis' free-agent defection to the Los Angeles Clippers and he clearly wants to try to see if Jackson -- who helped lead Nelson's Warriors to a stunning first-round upset of the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs -- can be re-engaged without the comments causing a lingering distraction.
Nelson is the second club official to publicly back the 31-year-old after Jackson announced at the New York event alongside a former teammate who was eager to leave Golden State early last season -- Knicks forward Al Harrington -- that he has "four or five years left " and wants "to be in a situation where I can continually be in the playoffs and get another ring."
In a club statement earlier this month, Warriors general manager Larry Riley said: "Stephen Jackson has been a true professional since arriving here three seasons ago and our expectations of him have not changed despite his recent comments. He's been one of our most consistent and productive players during that time. We expect that same display of professionalism as we begin to prepare for training camp and the start of the upcoming regular season."
The Warriors, though, have not addressed whether Jackson will be subject to a fine for his comments.
The reality is that trading Jackson would likely be difficult in the current NBA marketplace even if the Warriors wanted to move him. Despite Jackson's championship experience in San Antonio in 2003 and the solid numbers he posted last season after being named captain in Golden State -- averaging 20.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 59 games -- very few teams in this economy are open to taking on players in their 30s with multiple years remaining on their contracts.
Jackson has been the Warriors' emotional leader almost from the time he arrived in a January 2007 trade with Indiana. Led by Davis and Jackson, Golden State halted a 12-season playoff drought with its 2007 run and finished as the most successful non-playoff team in the history of the NBA's 16-team playoff format with a record of 48-34 as the West's No. 9 seed in 2008.
"As far as his remarks on playing for a championship, that's not the first time we've heard it because that's the goal that he sets for himself and his teammates every season," Riley said. "That's the type of confidence that he exudes as a player and the reason that he has endeared himself to our fans. That's who Stephen Jackson is.
"We have always understood his desire to contend with the NBA's best. That's an aspiration that is shared by our entire organization. We will continue in our quest to achieve that goal, and to be aggressive in pursuit of those results."
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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