Jackson weighs in on O'Neal trade, Parker
The Lakers coach says the shift to Phoenix could reinspire O'Neal. Jackson also talks frankly about Smush Parker's drawbacks.
Jackson, right, who coached O'Neal for five seasons with the Lakers, added his thoughts to the trade viewed by many as a reaction to the Lakers' acquisition of Pau Gasol. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 7, 2002)
Even though Shaquille O'Neal was traded last week to Phoenix, there was still enough talk about him and former Lakers starter Smush Parker to keep the Miami relevancy streak alive.
Jackson, who coached O'Neal for five seasons with the Lakers, added his thoughts to the trade viewed by many as a reaction to the Lakers' acquisition of Pau Gasol.
"I can't imagine that [O'Neal] wanted to pick up and move again," Jackson said. "I don't think that fit into his scheme of the way he wanted to live his life. But I do think it will re-energize him. I think he has got something to prove again, and I think it could be good for him."
Why did Phoenix give up four-time All-Star Shawn Marion and take a chance on a soon-to-be 36-year-old with a long list of injury problems?
"They're willing to take that risk," Jackson said. "I guess if you've been in the position they've been in the last three years and you haven't gotten to the Finals, you have to wonder about your strategy."
O'Neal has not played since Jan. 21 because of a hip injury, but Jackson expected him to be in the lineup when the Lakers and Suns meet Feb. 20 in Phoenix.
Jackson also talked openly about Parker, who flamed out in his second season with the Lakers and signed a two-year, $4.7-million contract with Miami before this season. He played only nine games before being suspended indefinitely in November after an alleged altercation with a valet-parking attendant.
"I had hopes for Smush in my exit meeting with him last year, talked to him about trying to get himself motivated in a way that might be different than what he'd done in the past," Jackson said. "I just don't know what went wrong. I haven't stayed close enough to that situation.
"But Smush can get on the backside of an issue and make it worse, unfortunately. He was the kind of kid that if he got a bad call in a game, he might let it affect him for two minutes and then get a technical two minutes later because it would kind of burn, ignite and the ember wouldn't go away."
It has been 10 days since the Gasoltrade, but reactions are still trickling in. Count San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich among those who disapproved of it.
"What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension," he told SI.com "There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I'd like to elect myself to that committee. I would have voted no to the L.A. trade."
Popovich was then told that Memphis General Manager Chris Wallace had challenged NBA executives to criticize the deal publicly instead of spreading unattributed opinions comparable to what Wallace called "pillow talk."
Said Popovich: "Well, there you go. I'm on the record."
After further review, the Lakers are leaning toward keeping DJ Mbenga in case Chris Mihm isn't ready to play after the All-Star break, a team source said.
Mihm has been sidelined since Dec. 23 because of bursitis in his right heel and a sore Achilles' tendon. He has been taking part in individual workouts with team trainers, but a definite return date has not been established. The Lakers would have to sign Mbenga for the rest of the season after the expiration of his second 10-day contract, probably for the prorated amount of the league minimum of $427,163.
at Charlotte, 4 PST (5:30, Ch. 9)
Site -- Bobcats Arena.
Radio -- 570, 1330.
Records -- Lakers 33-17, Bobcats 18-33.
Record vs. Bobcats (2006-07) -- 0-2.
Update -- The Bobcats are on a six-game losing streak, but they have been dangerous against the Lakers in Charlotte, beating them in triple overtime last season, 133-124, and 112-102 two seasons ago.