Warriors' Jackson still captain if no deal
"If it's good for the team, we'll look at it," Nelson said Friday. "It has nothing to do with Jack or a request. But we'll accommodate him if we can, if it's good for him and it's good for us we'd certainly look at it. ... We wouldn't give him away."
Until then, Nelson will embrace Jackson despite Golden State's leading scorer and top defender saying he wanted to be dealt to a winner.
Jackson will remain a captain for the Warriors this season as long as he's in the Bay Area and Nelson doesn't expect the emotional swingman to be a distraction in the locker room for a young roster that surely will be looking to him as a leader.
Last month, Jackson told Dime Magazine at an event in New York that he wanted out and had made that known to the Warriors brass. But he signed a three-year contract extension in November and is someone the Warriors had considered an integral part of their long-term plans.
At least that used to be the case.
"He's disappointed some people around here the way that he did it," Nelson said. "I legitimately love Jack. We're good friends. I understand Jack, I think I do. I can coach him. He's my captain. He's still a leader on the team. If he's here he's going to try the best he can to win games."
And Jackson is expected to attend the Warriors' media day Monday and be in uniform for the start of training camp Tuesday. Nelson isn't planning a "special meeting" with Jackson but said he would speak to him next week.
"It's not about a decision I made," Jackson told the magazine while with former Warriors teammate Al Harrington at an event sponsored by their shoe company. "It's just things are in the air right now. I really can't get too much into it right now, but I'm just looking to go somewhere where I can go and win a championship."
Early last season Nelson said he talked to Jackson about this very topic, the fact Jackson might have a tough time with losing while playing for a rebuilding franchise -- and Nelson mentioned that at some point Jackson might want to look to leave. But that was before the Warriors gave Jackson the extension.
"It took a year but I guess he decided to," Nelson said. "It is what it is. We'll try to accommodate him if it works out and it's the right thing for the team. If it's not, then he'll be here."
Jackson averaged 20.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 59 games last season, but fans and team officials now certainly have to be questioning his loyalty.
Since Jackson arrived in the Bay Area in a trade with the Indiana Pacers in January 2007, he has rebounded from a rocky past to become a key piece for Nelson and a major spark for the Warriors. He helped the team end a 12-year playoff drought that year and reach the postseason's second round, and Golden State helped him repair his image.
The Warriors shocked Dallas in the 2007 playoffs, Golden State's lone postseason trip since 1994. The 2008 squad barely missed the postseason despite winning 48 games, the most by a non-playoff NBA team in a quarter-century.
General manager Larry Riley said Friday he would treat a potential trade of Jackson as he would any other deal -- exploring what makes the most sense for the team. In the meantime, he's not concerned about how Nelson will handle Jackson.
"I'm glad to have Nellie on board as our coach because he can coach players who at one time or another maybe had some kind of an issue," Riley said. "I don't consider this as something that can't be worked through. I think it will be. I'm approaching it that way."
Riley, previously an assistant general manager since November and before that an assistant on the bench under Nelson, was promoted to GM in May when the team cut ties with Chris Mullin, executive vice president of basketball operations and formerly one of the most popular players in franchise history.
Jackson isn't the first high-profile player to make it known he wants out of Oakland. Gilbert Arenas wasn't happy, then Baron Davis bolted for the Los Angeles Clippers before last season and Harrington was eventually traded to the Knicks, too.
"Isn't that funny?" Nelson said. "The most beautiful place in the world other than Maui. I just don't get it. I guess we just haven't been good enough for long enough. I think we can change that. I hope so."
On another note, Nelson said Friday he plans to fulfill the remaining two years on his contract and then has offered his services for the following year -- in whatever capacity the team wants -- free of charge.
He thought about it over the summer and recently told team president Robert Rowell.
"I think he was in shock," said Nelson, who last fall received a two-year extension. "He didn't speak. I don't think he'd heard that one before. ... Just to say thanks and that I appreciate the extension they gave me. I just want to give something back."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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