The Starting Lineup: Stephen Jackson, Tracy McGrady Unhappy. Marc Gasol Very Happy.

Surprise!  Stephen Jackson isn’t happy playing…er…not playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.  See, that’s the thing… Stack loves to win, but even more so he likes to play.  He’s one of those dudes who probably loves the idea of playing three games in three nights, and he’d even be happy to play 48 minutes in all three of ‘em.  Despite Milwaukee’s current wing situation (the two and three spots are basically filled by committee), not only is he not up there with the league leaders in MPG as he has been in years past, he’s hardly playing at all.  After a loss to Orlando in which he played just 12 minutes, Jackson had the following to say.  Via

When asked if he has a future in Milwaukee, Jackson shook his head.

“Not at all,” Jackson told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s obvious, you can see that. I’m just waiting until my situation is different. I’m coming to work every day and keeping myself prepared so that when my situation does get better, I’m ready to go.”…

…“It’s very difficult,” Jackson said. “I’m going from playing 38 minutes each game and being one of the top guys in minutes played over the last five years to not playing at all. It’s tough. The only thing that I can do is worry about what I can control and that’s trying to be a professional and keep supporting the young guys. It’s tough though, with how much I love the game. I know I have a lot of basketball left in me. It’s tough not being out there and not being able to contribute.”…

…“I’ve worked hard for many years to be that player that guys want to play with,” Jackson said. “To not be playing, and not have any reasons behind it, it’s kind of disrespectful. At the end of the day, I’m 33 years old. I’m not a 22-year-old guy that you’re coaching. I’m a grown man who’s probably done more than a lot of people in this locker room in this league, including coaches. Like I said, I can’t put myself in the game and I can’t do anything except support my teammates and be ready for when I do play.”

My first thought upon reading this was that I really should’ve seen it coming.  When Jackson was dealt to the Bucks, I thought he and Scott Skiles could develop some sort of weird, angry-guy chemistry.  I thought maybe Skiles would respect Jackson’s will to win and identify with his rage and insanity, because Skiles doesn’t seem to be the most stable dude himself–his rotations change on a seemingly daily basis.  Anyway, now that Jackson’s on his bad side he’ll never become one of the few players who isn’t at risk of being shuffled in and out of the lineup.  Once Scott Skiles decides he doesn’t like you, you can forget about it.  I remember that one season where they had Charlie Villanueva, and they were one of the worst offensive teams in the league.  It was that season that earned CV the big contract… he was playing like a f@ckin’ mini Dirk Nowitzki.  He’d start the game, drop 15 in the first quarter, and you wouldn’t see him again until the third.  I guess Skiles wasn’t happy with his defense, but when you’ve got Fransisco Elson, Charlie Bell, and Luke Richard Mbah A Moute playing like 25-35 minutes… I dunno, man.  Anyway, I’ve gotten off track.  So, where would Jackson like to play, you ask?  Well, he wouldn’t mind going to Orlando…

“I would love to [play in Orlando],” Jackson said. “Dwight has said a couple of times that he wants me to be with him.  When you get a compliment like that from a big man like Dwight, it means a lot. Tim Duncan always steps up for me and says I’m the ultimate teammate too. When I have guys like that speaking up for me, I must have been doing something right throughout my whole career. I know my situation is going to get better eventually and I’m just going to keep being professional and keep my mouth closed.”

“Dwight has said a couple of times that he wants me to be with him.”  Then be with him, Stack!  Lol, just kidding.  Okay, for serious… what does Orlando have to offer, and what are they interested in giving up?  Well, Hedo and Jack have similar salaries.  I don’t see why Milwaukee would want Hedo, but I’m sure Orlando would be happy to get rid of him.  Maybe a trade centered around Jason Richardson is more realistic.  J-Rich just signed for four years at around $5.5 million per, a signing that made no sense to me at all.  I mean, you don’t know if Dwight’s gonna stick around… what the hell do you want J-Rich for four years for?  He’s a three-point-happy shell as it is… what’s he gonna be like in 20-f@ckin’-15?  So, even though the 33-year-old Stack would come to Orlando asking for an extension that they may not want to give him, at least he’d be happy playing 35 or 40 MPG next to an elite center in Dwight Howard… well, I think he’d be happy with that.  If not, he’s only got two years left on his deal.  Being stuck with an unhappy Stephen Jackson for a year and a half max is better than being stuck with a declining J-Rich for four.  Maybe Milwaukee won’t see it that way, and a trade can be executed.

Other possible destinations that would fit Stephen Jackson… hmm… I’m thinking the LA Lakers.  Yeah, they’re old already, but if they want to make a run this season they’re gonna need some more perimeter firepower.  Stack could even do some ball handling… maybe get Derek Fisher off the f@cking floor a little bit.  So, can the Lakers pull the move using their trade exception?  I’m not an expert on how this sh!t works, but both Jack’s contract and the trade exception are worth approximately $9 million.  Of course, the Lakers are in the market for an upgrade at point guard, and I’m not sure they’re interested in trading their major chip for an aging small forward.

One other team that could consider a Stephen Jackson trade is the LA Clippers.  They’ve got a couple of trade exceptions totaling about $7 million, and since they’re in win-now mode they could dangle young players like Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie, or maybe even Eric Bledsoe (not sure I like that idea, but I’m just brainstorming here).  If the Clippers could acquire Jackson without losing Mo Williams they’d be able to keep Randy Foye planted on the bench.  Hell, if Milwaukee wants him I suppose they could send Foye too.

As for Tracy McGrady… he played just 4 minutes and 39 seconds in a blowout loss to the Blazers last night, and he’s just about had enough of this sh!t.  No, seriously, that’s pretty much exactly what he said.  Via the AJC

“I’m tired of this [bleep],” McGrady said. “You can put that in the paper, I don’t give a [bleep].”

Unlike Jackson, T-Mac doesn’t necessarily want to be traded, though…

“Hopefully, I’m here,” he said. “I like it here. I like the guys. That’s what I love most about it. I like the guys in this locker room. But at the same time, I still can play. No doubt in my mind.”

Well, ranting to the media doesn’t ever seem to solve any problems, but he may have a point.  Vladimir Radmanovic plays something like 18 minutes a night at the three spot, and he’s shooting 36% on the season.  In the same amount of playing time, T-Mac puts up better numbers across the board and obviously brings a more versatile game to the table.  I don’t see McGrady being traded because there probably isn’t a whole lot of interest, but if Larry Drew continues to give the bulk of the bench minutes to other guys maybe he simply gets bought out and signs on somewhere else.

An NBA player who is happy? How ’bout Marc Gasol?

And what’s not to be happy about?  The Grizzlies have moved into the 6th spot out West, they’re scoring two baskets per possession, and they’re winning every game on dramatic, buzzer-beating tip shotsDamn it feels good to be a Grizzly!

Blake Griffin had the first 20/20 game of his career in what should’ve been a big Clipper victory over a Spurs team that’s won 10 in a row.  Despite Tony Parker’s 30 points and 10 assists, the Clippers had a three-point lead with 10 seconds to go, and all they had to do to secure the big win was inbound the ball and make a freethrow.  Shockingly, it was Chris Paul who choked, turning Gary Neal (who had just turned the ball over himself) into the hero…

After the game, Paul called ^that the “worst play” of his NBA career.  Apparently he thought he was about to be whistled for a backcourt violation, and it would’ve been close, but even if that’s what he was thinking… why then would he throw it to another guy in the backcourt?  Anyway, I’m not mad at you, Chris.  You’ve been crazy clutch for the Clipps this year… the team probably has 3 or 4 fewer Ws without your late-game heroics.  It sucks that it had to happen against the second-place Spurs, as this could’ve been a great victory, but I suppose it’s not that big a deal.  It would’ve given me something to write about this morning (I’m not authoring up sh!t about a San Antonio victory… f@ck that), but that’s about it, really.

I think Josh Smith was robbed of a triple-double. Late in last night’s loss to the Blazers, Smith hit the high post and scanned the floor for open teammates.  He was seeking out his 10th assist.  He first looked around the perimeter at all of his three-point shooters, but decided that was too risky.  He waited for Ivan Johnson to occupy an open spot in the paint, at which point he fired a bullet of a pass.  Johnson caught it, gathered, either pump faked or dribbled once, I can’t remember which, and finished on the other side of the rim.  To me, that’s an assist… especially considering how generous the score keepers tend to be.  Smith’s pass led directly to a bucket!  Why you hatin’, Portland score keepers?

Highlight Recap, Eric Bledsoe to Blake Griffin Edition:

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