I do not think I have said anything about the Nuggets rumored interest in Stephen Jackson. Well, it is a story that just will not die. Originally the Nuggets’ interest in Jackson made little sense to me, but when RMC reader BMer emailed me the link on TrueHoop where Marc Stein again emphasized the Nuggets have interest in Jackson I realized it was time to take the possibility that the Nuggets would trade for Jackson seriously.
It took me a while to try to come up with a reason why Denver would be interested in Jackson after all he really is a small forward and clearly Denver does not need a replacement there. Plus Jackson is a chucker who loves having the ball in his hands towards the end of games and has famously said the he “makes love to pressure.” Once again, late game marksmanship is not a big area of need for Denver.
After a few minutes of consternation it finally donned on me why the Nuggets are interested in Jackson, his defense. I completely understand if you are confused. Jackson is not known as a defensive stopper. However, he has a history of frustrating Dirk Nowitzki and his defense on Dirk was a major factor in the Warriors defeat of the Mavs in the first round in the spring of 2007.
Even then the Nuggets’ interest in Jackson was not entirely clear. The Nuggets are better than the Mavericks and you usually do not make moves to address a weakness against a team you can beat despite that weakness. I kept thinking and I think I figured it out. Jackson has not only spent time guarding Dirk, but he has experience in covering Kobe Bryant.
Could that be it? Are the Nuggets looking for a two way player they trust to throw out against Bryant? Jackson is not the number one Kobe stopper out there, I am not entirely sure there is a number one Kobe stopper. Still the way to cover Kobe is to pressure him with a player long enough to challenge his jumper and strong enough to keep Kobe from getting prime position on the block while pre-rotating help in case Kobe drives. Jackson fits the bill as good as anyone.
The question then becomes what would the Nuggets have to give up in order to acquire him? From the rumors I have read I have not seen any names appear, but I am sure a few have been bandied about behind closed doors. I would think the Warriors would be interested in Nene and if that is the going price, it is no wonder Jackson is not a Nugget. In order for the Nuggets to give up a big man, they would need one back. The only combination that makes any sense to me is to include Kenyon and Andris Biedrins. Biedrins might help with the Nuggets defensive rebounding problem, but Golden State is not going to trade two starters away for Kenyon and filler. The biggest problem is the Nuggets most tradeable assets are guards and that is the area where the Warriors are the deepest.
The only deal that makes sense to me is if J.R. Smith is sent to a third team who sends a player to Golden State and Denver ends up landing Jackson (something like J.R. to Miami, Udonis Haslem and another player or pick to Golden State and Jackson to Denver). The only place for Jackson to get minutes in Denver would be shooting guard. As mentioned above Denver has a small forward and Jackson or Melo can play power forward from time to time, but Denver has a defensive rebounding problem as it is and that would only exacerbate it. I doubt J.R. would take kindly to Jackson coming in and playing at least half the game at shooting guard and Smith is the best combination of talent and contract the Nuggets have available.
Even if trading J.R. is on the table a three way trade would be very difficult to consummate. In the example above Miami is a very unlikely trade partner as they are making a point of preserving as much money for next summer as possible with dreams of teaming Wade with Chris Bosh or another high level big man. Maybe a team like Minnesota is interested and San Antonio showed interest in J.R. two summers ago when he was a restricted free agent. Then you have to worry about having J.R. haunt Denver for either a division rival or a fellow contender.
Ultimately, I do not see any realistic way Stephen Jackson ends up in Denver, but do not rule anything out.
Sometimes two minutes is not enough
There was another post on TrueHoop today by Chris Broussard that told an interesting story about the sale of their second round draft pick (number 34) last June. Apparently Cleveland had made an offer of $2 million to move up and draft DeJuan Blair. However, the Rockets came in with their record offer of $2.25 million. As you may know you only have two minutes to make your trade or selection in the second round and time ran out before Denver could go back to Cleveland to see if they would up their original offer. As good as I think Blair could be, I wonder if that extra $250,000 is worth having him end up in the Western Conference.
Nevertheless, it is interesting to see a little picture of what goes on behind the scenes on draft night and what a little bit of what could have been.
Movin’ on up
I missed this article by Chris Tomasson last week, but apparently it did not take very long for George Karl to stop thinking of Ty Lawson as just a rookie. Karl also bristles at the claim he does not play rookies who deserve playing time.
Karl on coaching
Mike Torico interviewed George Karl as well as Pat Rilley and Hubie Brown. Karl talks about the changes in coaching over the past decade or two and it is an interesting discussion. Karl tells a story about how Dean Smith told him he had to be able to take the blame for every loss and if he could not handle it, he should not be a coach. I do not think Karl has always been the first to take the blame over his coaching career.
And you want to be here because?
I was very surprised to hear that Renaldo Balkman had signed an extension with the Nuggets last week. I guess I should never be that surprised when a player agrees to be paid, in Balkman’s case he is receiving north of $5 million for three years, but I would think Balkman would be looking for the answer to the same question many fans are. Why doesn’t he play? Players like Balkman who play hard and do not demand a certain amount of shots to give an effort are typically held in high regard and I doubt he would have a difficult time finding a good team who would want him on board.
I do not think anyone who knows me would call me a prima donna or high maintenance, but if I thought I should be on the court, and I was not seeing playing time, I would look to play somewhere else whether I was offered a contract extension or not.
Then again, maybe the experience of playing for the circus that was the New York Knicks convinced him that as long as you can be on the roster of a good team with little drama, you do it. Balkman has never complained about playing time to the media and has claimed that he wants to play, but will do what the coach wants.
The Nuggets’ stance that he is a player who can still be developed is interesting and I agree he can get better, but the guy can play now. Let him.
In Game Tactics
I was just watching the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers/Chicago Bulls game and Cleveland may have lost, but LeBron James did something that caught my eye. A play after Derrick Rose had scored off a pick by Brad Miller LeBron told Anderson Varejao to switch from Brad Miller to Luol Deng. At first I was confused, which is my natural state, but then realized that James took Miller so that when Miller set the screen for Rose he could switch onto Rose. The plan worked and LeBron forced Rose to pass and then he even grabbed the rebound on the missed shot, raced up the floor and made an unselfish cross court pass to Mo Williams for an open three that would have put the Cavs ahead. Williams missed the shot and the Cavs lost, but I was impressed with how LeBron manipulated the Bulls into a situation where Cleveland had the advantage. He knew Rose was looking to score and wanted to take the best option away from Chicago.
The next step in Rose’s development is to recognize that and send Miller away so there is no chance to switch on the screen. Then if LeBron comes off of Miller to double it will leave one of the best shooting big men in the league open for a jumper.