The idea Jim Jackson could become a Phoenix Sun first floated around the team’s front office as soon as Jackson was dealt from Houston to New Orleans the day after Christmas.
"We talked long and hard about it," Suns president Bryan Colangelo said. "But we thought at that moment it wasn’t the time to disrupt anything."
The moment finally arrived Friday, when the Suns dealt swingman Casey Jacobsen and forwards Maciej Lampe and Jackson Vroman to the Hornets for the disgruntled 34-year-old Jackson, who had refused to report to New Orleans, and a second-round draft pick.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound swingman, goes from the NBA’s worst team to one of the best. And the Suns underscored their belief they think they can win now rather than wait for the future.
"I think our success, to some degree, snuck up on us," Colangelo said. "We want to seize the moment."
Said coach Mike D’Antoni, "I do think we are a better team today than we were yesterday."
Jackson, who has career averages of 15.2 points, 3.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game, is expected in Phoenix today to take his physical. The Suns hope to have him available Sunday against New Jersey.
Jackson, now on his 12th NBA team counting the Hornets, had averaged 13.3 points a game in Houston. Miffed no one had talked to him prior to the trade to New Orleans, Jackson never showed up there. He forfeited $27,500 in salary for each of the 11 games he missed.
"No disrespect to the Hornets, but starting over is not what I want to do," Jackson told the Toledo Blade a week ago.
The Suns, however, insisted Jackson’s decision doesn’t reflect on the kind of player they’re bringing in.
"With any trade there are risks, but we feel this will help us now," D’Antoni said. "We needed another playmaker.
"Reputations are a funny thing in this league. I played with a lot of guys with a bad reputation, then you play with them and they’re great. It’s easy to get tagged with certain things."
Colangelo said it had become clear with the recent injury to point guard Steve Nash the Suns needed to improve their bench. Jackson, who can shoot from 3-point range as well as use a post-up game, will contribute more than Jacobsen, who couldn’t add much if his 3-point shot wasn’t falling.
"I am trying to keep it in perspective," said Jacobsen, admittedly blindsided by the move. "I’ve seen teammates of mine traded without warning.
"It’s not the end of the world. I am excited to go to New Orleans."
Jacobsen, who averaged 5.3 points a game, is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and the Suns might be interested in bringing him back.
Jackson is under contract through next season. Forward Paul Shirley, cut by the Suns at the beginning of the season, is expected to be resigned to fill a roster spot.
Meanwhile, Colangelo said the team will continue to look for ways to upgrade, including the possibility of finding a veteran worth the $1.4 million cap exception made available after the trade of Zarko Cabarkapa.
"They’ve been saying for the longest time that after the starting five, we’ve got nothin’," Suns forward Quentin Richardson said. "I just hope this works."