NBA

Jackson's attitude will make or break deal for 'Cats

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Charley Rosen

Charley Rosen is FOXSports.com's NBA analyst and author of 17 sports books, the current ones being Bullpen Diaries: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees and Crazy Basketball: A Life In and Out of Bounds.

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While the first in-season trade won't have much effect on the overall balance of power in the league, the exchange is still a fascinating one. Let's take a close look at the players involved — Stephen Jackson and Acie Law going from the Warriors to the Bobcats in exchange for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic. Stephen Jackson is a streaky spot and pull-up shooter, who can sometimes take his right hand into the paint but would starve to death if he had to feed himself with only his left hand. Even so, he is capable of providing the Bobcats with another go-to scorer to complement Gerald Wallace, and his special skills will also serve to stretch defenses and provide Wallace with more driving lanes than he's had since he's been in Charlotte. Indeed, Jackson's hot-shot streaks can occasionally carry a team for an entire ball game. Also, when the spirit moves him, he can play above-average on-the-ball defense, but he also tends to lose his concentration on the weak side. Look for Jackson to play extremely well with the Bobcats — for a while, that is. In spite of his public exhortations demanding that the Warriors trade him to a team that has a legitimate chance at a title, Jackson was dealt from one 3-6 team to another 3-6 team. Charlotte, like Golden State, has no chance to qualify for the playoffs, and this turn of events has to frustrate Jackson. Chances are he'll blame the Warriors (i.e. Don Nelson) for deliberately shafting him by sending him to another team going nowhere fast. Of course, every coach who inherits a so-called difficult player firmly believes that he can succeed — where his peers have so miserably failed — in transforming a bad boy into a productive citizen who can work and play well with others. While Larry Brown will have an immediate crush on Jackson — as he does with all of his new players — Brown's micromanaging and the perpetual yelping that he employs to remind his players of their every mistake will eventually alienate Jackson. And Jackson's general arrogance and noisy discontent will sooner rather than later put him in Brown's doghouse.
It's a good bet that the honeymoon will be a brief one and sooner rather than later, will lead to a nasty estrangement. The Warriors, of course, rid themselves of an expensive malcontent who was doing much more harm than good. Indeed, Golden State is absolutely thrilled to have found a sucker — er, a team — that was willing to accept Jackson and his humongous contract. Acie Law is a throw-in to make the numbers work out. His primary (only?) asset is his warp speed. But he can't shoot. For his career, he converts only 39.1 percent of his field-goal attempts, including a horrendous 25.4 percent from downtown. Nor can he defend or pass up to NBA standards. Since Charlotte already has Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin at the point, Law will either become glued to the bench or else bought out ASAP. Vladimir Radmanovic is an excellent practice player who, when the stands are empty, will rebound like a demon, make treys like a machine and even play above-average defense. During real-life ball games, however, Radmanovic suddenly becomes a mistake player. Feeling that he has to score lots of points to play well, he'll routinely force long-range shots, with each miss making him even more anxious to hoist another bomb. Even worse, he'll brick layups — his lifetime shooting percentage is a mere 41.9 — make poor decisions on defense and throw ill-advised passes. Power forwards are expected to pull down one rebound for every four minutes of playing time they receive. Small forwards are expected to haul in a rebound every five minutes. A 6-foot-9 powerless forward, Vlad-Rad averages only one rebound every 5.8 minutes. His innate talent is always a lure, but there's a reason why Golden State will be Radmanovic's fifth team in three-and-a-fraction seasons. Look for him to be bench-bound by Christmas. Raja Bell is at a precarious stage in his career. At age 33 and with a painfully injured left wrist, his best days can only be seen with a rear-view mirror. Even so, he'll still be able to stick 3-balls and play ornery defense until either his wrist becomes too painful to avoid surgery and/or his wheels fall off. For the time being, though, he could turn out to be a useful player for Golden State. After all, playing for Larry Brown will make it easy for Bell to deal with Nellie's particular brand of ego-mania. The worst aspect of joining his new team will be Bell's loneliness on the court. That's because he'll be the only guard/wing who has the slightest interest in playing all-out on defense. If Jackson undergoes a dramatic personality alteration, the Bobcats will be the big winner in this transaction. If he remains a private and public nuisance, then the Warriors will come out ahead. In any event, circle January 29, 2010 on your calendar. That's when the Warriors play host to the Bobcats in what could turn out to be an exceptionally mean-spirited ball game.

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