One season after his return to San Antonio, Stephen Jackson has been waived by the San Antonio Spurs just days before the start of the playoffs.
The team officially announced the release of Jackson in the last hour. The move is abrupt and unexpected, and it has put a dent in the Spurs' rotation of bench players, cutting the roster size down to 14 bodies. Because Jackson was cut after the playoff-roster deadline, he will not be eligible to sign with any team for the postseason.
Gregg Popovich said the move was made with the team in mind, and expressed the difficulty in making the decision to cut someone personally close to him.
"We're getting ready for playoffs and putting our team together, what we want to do and who we want to do it with. We thought that making this decision with Jack was best for the group," he said. "Tough decision, because on a personal basis I've known him for a long time and I enjoy him very much. But you have to make decisions that are tough sometimes."
Pop would not comment any more than that, refusing to delve into the direct reasoning for a transaction that is very surprising given that the postseason is now just days away.
"There's no conspiracy theory or anything like that," he continued, before commenting on Jack's reaction to the news. "(Jack) was classy. I'm sure he doesn't like the decision, but you got to do what you got to do."
It's unclear whether or not there will be any additions to the current roster, but given the timing of this situation it doesn't seem likely the opening will be filled. According to league rules, the only way the Spurs can sign somebody as playoff-eligible personnel is if said hypothetical player was not waived by an NBA team after the March 23 deadline. But the D-League and European landscapes aren't necessarily flush with NBA-ready — not to mention playoff-ready — prospects at this point. At least you wouldn't think that would be the case.
If the locker room knew much of anything prior to today, Danny Green's quotes sure didn't reflect that.
"I heard the news and I was as shocked as anybody. The idea of it, I think, had been circling around," he said. "But we weren't very sure of what was going on. It was very abrupt. We didn't know for sure."
The Spurs' shooting guard continued to talk about the effect of Jack's departure. The rumor that's been swirling is that the much-maligned Jackson was upset by his playing time, and Green said there had been an inkling of that.
"Yeah, at times. That's the nature of the game. Some games are going to go your way and some games don't," he said. "Jack is a player who is used to being the guy on the team, or one of the main guys to score and do big things.
"Here, his role is a lot different. It's not easy to adjust to."
Regardless, thus ends the second round of the Stephen Jackson era in San Antonio. All the "Is (Pop) my dad?" quotes, the cake-in-the-face moments are now a thing of the past, and the mercurial Jack once again finds himself as a free agent with no opportunity to join a playoff team.
As a parting note, he left this on Twitter.
Early vacation indeed.