“T”-Toting Jackson’s Gotta Go

By Dave Del Grande
Updated: May 17, 2007

OAKLAND — The final piece of confetti hadn’t completed its journey from rafters to floor Tuesday night, and already Don Nelson was being asked about next season. Really, he shouldn’t have been surprised.

Make no mistake about it: Sneaking into the playoffs and bowing out to a non-elite team won’t be enough to fill the rather large belly of Warriors fans next season, even if they’re still a bit loopy after toasting the appetizer with champagne.

Chris Mullin has many tough decisions to make this offseason, starting with what to do with his ticking time bomb — Stephen Jackson.

Having just disembarked from a 24-day, 11-game roller-coaster ride, we’ve seen the good and the bad of the ex-Pacer. The question is: Have we seen the worst?

I seriously doubt it. So now’s the time to ship him elsewhere and assure his explosion cracks someone else’s foundation.

As great a player as he can be, there’s just no way you can win with this guy. He’s alienated so many referees, the Warriors find themselves playing 5-on-8 every time Jackson suits up.

With a generally uninspiring group of free agents about to hit the market, Jackson’s three-year, $21.4 million remaining commitment shouldn’t be a deal breaker, especially for general managers who watched the Dallas series but then switched over to the Spurs and Suns in Round 2.

The Warriors flat-out cannot bring him back.

DATELINE: Golden State. The Jackson dilemma isn’t Mullin’s only concern right now. Here are five other questions he must answer before training camp in October:

What would happen if the Warriors basically stood pat this offseason?

Let me guess … Baron Davis and his track-team mates would exhaust themselves winning 48 games, then get pounded into submission as soon as they ran into the likes of Tim Duncan, Elton Brand or Carlos Boozer in the postseason. Good in 2006-07, not good enough in 2007-08.

Should Mickael Pietrus be re-signed?

Only as part of a sign-and-trade. The team has more of a need for a Paul Millsap-type interior force or Marcus Banks-type insurance policy for Davis than yet another mediocre perimeter shooter.

Should Davis get his desired four-year, $89.9 million extension?

If you say no, you’re setting up a lame-duck season that would drive 67-year-old Nelson into retirement by year’s end. Davis is as important to the Warriors as Barry Bonds has been to the Giants. Pay the man.

What type of player should the Warriors draft?

A shooter. A kid who can hit an open 3-pointer is a lot easier to find in the middle of the first round than someone who can guard Boozer. Question: On a team that fires up 30 3’s a night, who’s the Warriors’ best pure shooter? Answer: The Warriors have no pure shooters.

Is pursuing Kevin Garnett a waste of time?

Hey, you’d have thought offering Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy for anything with a heartbeat might have qualified as a waste of time, so why not? But let’s be realistic: If Mullin could get the equivalent of Millsap for Jackson and Banks for Pietrus, all he’d need to do is find two more Nelson-made Matt Barneses out there, and the Warriors would be ready to roll.