MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles was an assistant coach when Stephen Jackson was drafted into the league in 1997. The gritty former point guard believes Jackson is the strong personality he has sought for the locker room.
“It’s fair to say he’s an alpha male,” Skiles said. “It’s great to go in there and say things, but if you go in there and you go out on a limb and say something, then you’ve got to also step up and go ahead and take a big shot and not be afraid of big moments and things like that. You don’t have to look very far in his career to know he’s done that.”
Milwaukee traded for Jackson, guard Shaun Livingston and the rights to Tobias Harris, the 19th pick, from Charlotte. The Bucks also received Beno Udrih from Sacramento in exchange for Corey Maggette, John Salmons and the rights to Jimmer Fredette, the 10th selection.
Jackson will be the catalyst for his seventh team, just like he’s been elsewhere.
The Bucks hope the 6-foot-8 Jackson can become the floor leader of another team that has perhaps the most talent he’s been surrounded with since he won a title as a role player with the Spurs in 2003. Chemistry issues wrecked the Bucks last season, as they slumped to 35-47 a year after a rare playoff berth.
Or, he could be a polarizing figure who will clash with Skiles at every turn.
“The most important time for us is when Stephen speaks his mind in the locker room, and when he speaks in the locker room, it’s about winning. And he proves that. The guy, he’s won most every place he’s been,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “I hope that he does speak up. We need that, we need leadership. I don’t think it’s going to be a chemistry issue at all. I think he’s going to be maybe a good dose of what we need.”
Skiles said he talked to Jackson for about 10 minutes earlier Thursday and that the conversation went well, and Hammond said no one has come out and said Jackson has ever been a bad teammate.
“He’s a competitor and I don’t anticipate any issues at all,” Skiles said. “He gave me no indication that he had any issue whatsoever. The main thing is, get guys here, get them in, see what we’re all about. I’m sure he’s going to like it.”
Jackson’s season ended early last year because of a left hamstring injury, but he had been working out at the Bobcats facility this summer and dropped to 225 pounds, 20 pounds lighter than during the season. He averaged 18.5 points last seasons after three straight seasons over 20 ppg with Golden State and Charlotte.
“It’s our responsibility to make him comfortable, and we’ll do that,” Hammond said. “I’ve never been traded, but I’m sure it’s not easy for anyone at any time.”
Harris is a 6-foot-8 forward who worked out for the Bucks earlier in June and turns 19 next month. He’ll be given time to develop for a team that finished as the worst-shooting, lowest-scoring squad in the NBA last season.
Harris played just one season at Tennessee, where he averaged 15.3 points. He was a finalist for the 2010 Naismith High School Player of the Year Award and competed in McDonald’s All-America game.
“Tobias Harris welcome to Milwaukee …. congrats,” Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings posted on Twitter.
The Bucks also picked local product Jon Leuer with the 40th pick. Leuer is a lanky 6-foot-10 forward from Wisconsin who has great range and averaged 18.3 points his senior year. He will need to add size to be able to make an impact in the frontcourt in the NBA.
The new additions provide talent in the backcourt around Jennings and backup Keyon Dooling.
Udrih can play either guard position and is a career 35.8 percent shooter from 3-point range. Jackson can play shooting guard or small forward and is considered an upgrade over Salmons, who is headed to the Kings. Livingston provides depth.
The biggest name was the player Milwaukee won’t get when they picked Fredette for Sacramento. Fredette is the type of eye-popping scorer the Bucks could use after averaging 28.9 points his senior season at BYU and winning nearly every collegiate national player of the year honor.
It’s similar to what happened in the 1998 draft when Milwaukee selected Dirk Nowitzki ninth overall, but had already agreed to trade his rights and those of the 19th pick, Pat Garrity, for Robert “Tractor” Traylor, who was the sixth selection of the draft.
Nowitzki went on to be a star and eventual NBA champion this year with the Mavericks. Traylor lasted just parts of two seasons in Milwaukee before being traded and started just 73 games over seven seasons before his NBA career ended.
Milwaukee still has a need down low to help former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut even with the additions of Leuer and Harris. The Bucks hope power forward Drew Gooden will be healthy again after missing half of last season with plantar fasciitis.
After that, Milwaukee has a group of undersized forwards that includes Ersan Ilyasova, Jon Brockman, Carlos Delfino and Larry Sanders. The Bucks also made a qualifying offer this week to defensive specialist Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to give them the option to match any contract offers the third-year player might receive.
For the fourth straight year, the Bucks made a big splash before the draft.
In 2008, Hammond dealt Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons for Richard Jefferson. In 2009, Jefferson departed for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Amir Johnson. Last year, Hammond traded Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell for Maggette.
Now Maggette is gone, too, after being hurt early and failing to find consistent minutes or a role in Milwaukee, in an exchange of contracts for Jackson, an explosive scorer with a volatile personality.
“We don’t want to do this every year,” Hammond said of the constant trades. “Maybe some people say we need to have more patience. That could be a little part of it, but look, we want to win and we want to win consistently.”
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