OAKLAND (AP) — In a matter of three days, the Golden State Warriors have restructured their roster in a way they believe will truly transform them into a playoff team next season.
General manager Larry Riley, owner Joe Lacob and first-year coach Mark Jackson are tired of just talking about the postseason.
The Warriors traded swingman Stephen Jackson to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday for small forward Richard Jefferson and a conditional first-round draft pick this year.
"There is no doubt in our mind that our roster has improved by leaps and bounds," Riley said Thursday. "We had to change this thing. We've changed the Warriors organization in terms of the way we do business and our roster. I don't want to sit in front of the media like I did last year and say I like our team and I don't like our record."
Golden State acquired Jackson — who helped the Warriors reach the second round of the playoffs in 2007 — and center Andrew Bogut from the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown. There was immediate thought that the Warriors would then try to deal Jackson by Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
The team also finalized everything in the trade with Milwaukee, with all players passing their physicals. Bogut will be formally introduced before Friday night's game against the Bucks.
The Warriors were able to deal "Captain Jack" and get a much coveted first-round pick in the process. Golden State had previously agreed to send its first round pick to Utah if it is not in the top seven. The Warriors now will likely be back in the first round. San Antonio's pick is lottery protected, but the Spurs are in second place in the Western Conference so that will probably not be an issue.
Jefferson is expected in Oakland on Friday, but still must pass a physical. Riley didn't rule him out to play against Milwaukee.
"He's a player who has had a tremendous amount of respect from different people around the league," Riley said. "He's been in a lot of playoff games and our objective is to get him in some more playoff games. We know the situation this year and how tough it's going to be closing out this year. We've significantly changed this team. We have a solid coach, we have a solid roster."
The Warriors also acquired the rights to T.J. Ford, who announced his retirement earlier this week following the latest scare to his surgically repaired spine. Riley said Ford "basically made the deal work for both sides."
Riley had been prepared for Stephen Jackson to return to the Warriors, and when the GM spoke before Wednesday's game against Boston he hinted that would likely happen. Then, he and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford worked through the night — and Lacob received details of the trade first thing Thursday morning before signing off on the move.
"I didn't put a lot of faith in what could happen and I was a little cautious about it," said Riley, who received inquiries from four teams regarding Jackson. "Sometimes at the late hour things move quickly."
In addition Thursday, the Warriors acquired a second-round pick for this June's draft from the Atlanta Hawks for cash considerations in an earlier deal.
Mark Jackson spoke before the trade was announced in general terms about owner Joe Lacob and the organization's commitment to building a playoff-caliber roster for the future. Golden State's postseason run in '07 is the organization's lone playoff berth since 1994.
"One thing I will say is that we've made a commitment as an organization to do whatever we have to do to get to where we want to get to," Jackson said after practice. "These fans should be excited in knowing that that promise is true. It's exciting to be part of it. ... Again, doing whatever it takes to put ourselves in position to continue to get pieces to be the team we expect to be. It says a lot about this ownership. It's just great to be part of it. I've seen the other side."
Rookie Klay Thompson appreciates the efforts being made to upgrade the roster moving forward.
"I think Warriors management is doing a great job," Thompson said. "They're not going to make any moves that are going to move this team backward. I'm happy with it, and I support whatever they do."
The 31-year-old Jefferson is averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game this season for the Spurs. He could be in the Bay Area in time for Friday night's game against the Bucks, which will mark Ellis' much-hyped, quick return to Oracle Arena in an opposing uniform.
"It's going to be very odd," Mark Jackson said of seeing Ellis and Udoh suit up for the Bucks. "In my short period, obviously those are two guys that I love, developed great relationships with. I'm proud to say that I coached them. I have a lot to be grateful for them. It's going to be different, but I'm going to be one of the people that's going to be clapping for them. It will be my first time clapping. I never turn around when the other team is being introduced. I'm not sure whether I'll turn around for those two guys, if they're starting or when they come in, but I will be clapping, no question about that."
Everybody knows he will try to go off for a big night against his former teammates — and Jackson is preparing for a defensive challenge. Ellis is averaging 21.9 points, 6.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds.
The Warriors will have a game plan for Ellis.
"He knows," Jackson said, chuckling. "The thing about it is it's no secret. The guy is such a great player that we'll defend him the way that everybody tried to defend him. He'll have some success. It's going to be a great challenge but we're up for the challenge and it's going to be a lot of fun."