Stephen Jackson could be gearing up to play in the NBA Finals right now. Instead, he's at home counting his money while he watches Tracy McGrady play in his stead. Jackson had been sparring with San Antonio Spurs' head coach Greg Popovich all season and it eventually cost him his roster spot. Most notably, Jackson was purposely released when it was too late to be eligible to play in the playoffs for someone else. However, could he be an option for the New York Knicks next season?
Stephen Jackson has always been a skilled player. There's no doubt about the fact he can help every team in the NBA. He can flat out play, the problem is, he knows it. Jackson has had multiple confrontations throughout his career and has worn out his welcome with coaches and organizations as a whole during his NBA career.
That being said, he can be an impact player and when he's focused and on his game, Jackson can be one of the best players on the floor. Could Jackson be that additional scorer Carmelo Anthony wants the New York Knicks to find this off season? The idea of bringing Jackson, who is used to playing in an up-tempo system, could be appealing to Mike Woodson and the Knicks who like to push the ball up the court and prefer veteran players over unexperienced athletes.
Experience is something the 6'8", 220 lbs Jackson has. Despite being drafted 43rd overall in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns he earned his way to the league playing for the La Crosse Bobcats of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) in 1997 and 1998. He played for the Sydney Kings in Australia in 1998, the Fort Wayne Fury of the CBA in 1999, the Marinos de Oriente in Venezuela and for San Carlos in the Dominican Republic in 1999 and 2000 and for Pueblo Nuevo in the Dominican Republic in 2000.
He then started his NBA career with the New Jersey Nets from 2000-01. He then played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2001-03, the Atlanta Hawks from 2003-04, the Indiana Pacers from 2004-07, the Golden State Warriors from 2007-09, the Charlotte Bobcats from 2009-11, the Milwaukee Bucks from 2011-12 and the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-13.
In 2003 he became an NBA champion with the Spurs and, despite his poor reputation, Jackson won the NBA Community Assist award in 2008. If the Spurs are able to defeat the Miami Heat he should be getting a second championship ring in the mail as well.
Everything sounds good, except the Knicks may not have enough money to get Jackson to join the Knicks. The fact is, he's use to being paid well for playing. Not that the $3.1 million mini mid-level exception that the Knicks have to offer isn't good money but it's not even a third of what he made this season.
In fact, Eric Goldschein of sportsgrid.com reports Jackson made more that Tim Duncan this season.
Tim Duncan is one of the greatest players in NBA history, a four-time NBA champion, a consummate professional and a team player. He’s about to play in the NBA Finals. He’s making $9.65 million this year.
Stephen Jackson is also an NBA champion (though he has far fewer rings than Duncan), and up until this year he was a valuable contributor to several teams. He got cut before the playoffs started. He made $10 million this year.
In order to afford Jackson the Knicks would have to rely on the rest of the NBA wanting to stay as far away from Jackson and his attitude as possible. That might be more realistic than it seems. Jackson has had quite a few run-ins during his time in the NBA and most would think that after 13 plus season's his attitude would have run it's course by now.
It's something the Knicks too should be concerned about but quite frankly can't afford not to ignore. The Knicks are extremely strapped for money this off-season and Jackson could be a major impact player for them. Plus, if Woodson can get J.R. Smith to buy in and act mature there's no reason to believe he can't get through to Jackson as well.