Forum Spin Doctor
OAKLAND, Calif. - The Indiana Pacers exchanged problems with the Golden State Warriors, and the eight-man trade seems likely to help both sides - though it might create a few new dilemmas for both clubs as well.
The Pacers traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to Golden State on Wednesday for forwards Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy in a large, bold deal to shake up two struggling teams.
The Pacers also sent guard Sarunas Jasikevicius and forward Josh Powell to the Warriors, who also gave up forward Ike Diogu and guard Keith McLeod. Though the trade involved no superstars, it removed several potential reasons that both clubs have hovered around .500 for much of the year.
Murphy, Dunleavy and Diogu had been reduced to high-priced backups for failing to produce more in new coach Don Nelson's offensive-minded system. Harrington, the most accomplished player in the trade, struggled to get comfortable alongside Jermaine O'Neal in his first season back with Indiana - while Jackson has been dogged by legal troubles and attitude problems all season.
Both clubs' top executives decided a wholesale swap was one possible way to fix things. According to Chris Mullin, the Warriors' vice president and a former player for both teams, the shuffle will benefit everyone involved - even if such a big roster shake-up throws off both teams' chemistry for a few key weeks before the playoff race begins in earnest.
"This is a situation where both teams feel good about what's going to happen," Mullin said. "They're all key components. All these guys that are in the deal, they're going to have good roles with their new teams."
O'Neal, whose similar talents led to the departure of close friend Harrington, also knows the Pacers might be set back for a while.
"We're back at stage one now, where we have to get guys acquainted with the system, acquainted with the plays, acquainted with the players," he told The Associated Press after traveling to Miami for a Thursday night game against the Heat. "That's my job as the leader of this team."
The deal left injury-plagued Golden State with just six healthy players on its roster for Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers - two fewer than the NBA minimum required to avoid forfeiting a game. The Warriors quickly signed NBA Development League forward Renaldo Major to a 10-day contract, and they put injured center Adonal Foyle on the active roster to avoid the forfeit in a 115-109 loss.
Both Murphy and Dunleavy have hefty contracts that allowed Golden State to finish the deal with significantly less financial impact than the Pacers. The Warriors' new players should debut Saturday night at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I think this makes us more athletic," Nelson said. "I was looking for a little more dominance in my players, and I think this gives us that look."
Harrington was one of the Warriors' top targets in free agency last season, but went back to Indiana - where he started his career - in a sign-and-trade deal with Atlanta. He averaged 15.9 points and 6.3 rebounds this season, second on the team in both categories to O'Neal, who plays much the same position.
"That's the heartbreak in it," Walsh said. "I'm not sure he's a good fit ... with Jermaine. When you really looked at it, I don't know if the two players complemented each other as well as we thought they could."
The Warriors pursued Harrington because the rangy forward should fit their new style of play.
"Al is a guy we've looked at for a while," Mullin said. "Al is a guy that's probably a lot stronger than people know. He can guard his man in the post if need be. He's gotten better over the years."
Jackson averaged 14.1 points per game, but has been almost nothing but trouble for the Pacers since his involvement in that infamous brawl in the stands at Detroit two years ago.
He was involved in a fight outside an Indianapolis strip club on Oct. 6, and is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 12 for firing a gun during the fracas. Jackson also was briefly suspended by Indiana for a sideline spat with coach Rick Carlisle last month.
"I think he was in a difficult environment for him," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said. "No matter what he was going to do, he wasn't going to outlive that environment. So I think it's good for him to go to another city and start fresh."
Murphy, a former Notre Dame star battling injuries this season, is averaging 8.9 points and 6.0 rebounds - both his lowest totals since his rookie year. He has been a capable rebounder at times in his 5 1/2 seasons at Golden State, but never became much more than a lanky perimeter player with sub-par defense.
Dunleavy, the No. 3 overall pick from Duke in 2002, has been booed regularly by Golden State fans this season. He hurt the Warriors with everything from his nondescript play to his seemingly aloof attitude.
The Warriors also were keen to acquire Jasikevicius, a Lithuanian who failed to meet high expectations in Indiana.