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RUMOR: Stephen Jackson for Zydrunas Ilgauskas ($11.5 million expiring)

UPDATE 2 (2:22pm): There's more over at ESPN True Hoop-- Marc Stein: Stephen Jackson a Warrior, for Now
UPDATE ( 2:10pm): Despite my best sales pitch our cavalier-ing friends over at Fear the Sword are not amused: Big Z isn't going anywhere - Ilgauskas trade rumors make little sense

Well they sure do look like teammates here thanks to a little Funleavy Foto Fun by "Captain" Jack.

Jump for the 4-1-1!

GSoM friend Marcus Thompson writes Would You Trade Jax for Ilgauskas? over at CC Times blog Inside the Warriors:

One rumor I've heard lately is that the Warriors have talked with Cleveland about acquiring Zydrunas Ilgauskas from the Cavaliers.

This seems like a move the Warriors would love to make, which leads me to believe Cleveland either isn't that interested in Jackson (they did sign Anthony Parker and they have Delonte West at shooting guard already) or they want more in exchange for Ilgauskas' $11.5 million expiring contract.

It should be noted that this trade would NOT work straight up (see FAIL on ESPN Trade Machine). Devean George [Trade Successful] or Acie Law [Trade Successful] would have to be included. The trade would also work with Kelenna Azubuike, but Larry Riley's a sharp cat- he wouldn't unnecessarily give away a solid swingman with a great deal to make this trade happen. Maybe that's what it will take for the Cavs to swallow the 4 years on Jackson's contract though? C.J. Watson cannot be traded until December 15th. Regardless, the trade can't just be Jack for Big Z. Some other names need to be included.

For the Dubs: Great long term move, but a short term step back.

In the short run, this is another move that makes the team worse. Sure it will help the team open up more playing time for their younger players (read: players who haven't earned the PT yet) which many hardcore (meaning crazy) Warriors fans oddly keep fantasizing about. But make no mistake about it- Jackson is a quality pro on both offense and defense. Unfortunately (because this should never happen on an NBA team) he was last year and is currently the Warriors best player. In terms of offensive effiency he doesn't put up the gaudy numbers of Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis, but neither of those players are asked to do as much on offense and neither stack up with Jack on D.

But getting rid of Captain Turnover and the ludicrous remaining 4 years on his deal (thank you Robert Rowell!) so that the Warriors can potentially net $22.8 million in expiring contracts? (Actually it'd probably be a little less since it would take George or Law to make it happen.) Sign me up.

The issue again for the Warriors is are they actually going to use all these expiring deals to make a high impact trade. I doubt they actually cash in on those contracts, but it's worth a shot. Let's face it- no one wants to play with the Warriors unless they overpay or the player has no other viable options. But here's a rare situation where simply dumping a player's contract could be a move for the Warriors in the long term. If you think the situation is nightmarish with the Warriors lead "captain" right now, imagine in a year or two after the Warriors have continued their losing ways (or more correctly Chris Cohan's losing ways) and the team keeps getting younger with their influx of lottery picks. That's a toxic environment that's conducive to no one. Captain Technical will not be a happy camper.

In the short term, it's a big step back for the Warriors (meaning stepping back from 10th place in the West to maybe 12th), but it could be a little interesting giving Nellie Ilgauskas. Big Z is still a quality center with a nice J. At age 34 he's probably at the tail end of his career (it's remarkable he's lasted this long after all those early injuries- give him his props), but there could be some shades of Manute Bol hitting jumpers (though not 3's) for the 2009-2010 Warriors season. An inside-outside combo of Ilgauskas and Biedrins could be interesting- especially if the two could work on some sort of passing 2-man game.

As far as starters or even heavy minutes this could present an interesting lineup:

Small Backcourt + Big Frontcourt

PG: Stephen Curry- 6'3

SG: Monta Ellis- 6'3

SF: Anthony Randolph- 7'0

PF: Andris Biedrins- 6'11

C: Zyndrus Ilgauskas- 7'3

Off the bench there's still Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, Kelenna Azubuike, etc. to give the Warriors some other looks in the backcourt.

For the Cavs: Great short term move, but questionable long term move.

Stephen Jackson is an excellent, excellent X-factor. There's no doubt about it. When he's not asked to be the captain or the #1/ #2 option he's a key cog in a winning squad (see WE BELIEVE + recent player recap and projection). Jack brings a very capable passer, 3pt shooter, and savvy vet (though not quite with the refs). When he wants to he can put out All-NBA Defense caliber results. The 2009-2010 Cleveland Cavaliers would a be great fit for him. Come to think of it- it's a great fit for anyone to play with King James.

Truth be told I'd be happy to see Jackson playing alongside LeBron James contending for a title. Against the Boston Celtics, Jack could focus on defending Paul Pierce so LeBron has more energy to be a 1-man show on offense or the best help defender ever seen. Same thing against Vince Carter on the Orlando Magic. Then imagine LeBron vs. Jack against Kobe and Ron-Ron in the 2010 NBA Finals. Plus the Shaq- Kobe how does his you know what taste?- drama storyline.

The problem is next year and beyond for the Cavs when LeBron James is in NY. They'd be stuck with a malcontent who would quickly wear out his welcome and demand a trade. But maybe the Cavs could trade him to New York at that point?


This is without a doubt the entire city of Cleveland's best chance at a professional sports titlte for quite some time (don't put your money on the Cleveland Browns). Trading an expensive backup center for the ultimate X-factor? They've got to make this move.

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99% of rumors never happen, but 99% of them are fun to talk about!

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