released Stephen Jackson
a week before the start of the playoffs. (Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Spurs announced the release of veteran forward Stephen Jackson on Friday.
FoxSportsSouthwest and Yahoo! Sports first reported the surprise move, which comes just days before the end of the regular season next Wednesday. Jackson is not playoff-eligible for another team because he was not released before the March 1 deadline.
"I ain't tripping at all," Jackson wrote on Twitter. "No worries. Don't worry about what [you] can't control. Breathe easy."
Jackson averaged 6.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.5 minutes in 55 games this season. He did not play in two of San Antonio's last three games.
Also Friday, the Spurs announced that forward Boris Diaw underwent surgery to remove a cyst from his spine. He is expected to miss three to four weeks.
Those two losses raise unforeseen questions about San Antonio's depth with the playoffs right around the corner, as guard Manu Ginobili is still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Coach Gregg Popovich will turn to Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal on the wings and will likely be forced into relying more heavily on smaller lineups. Jackson's absence would likely be felt most strongly in a potential Western Conference finals matchup with the Thunder. His size, physical presence and playoff experience would be useful in matchups against Oklahoma City's long, talented wings.
Yahoo! Sports reported that a disagreement between Popovich and Jackson over the player's role prompted the decision.
After recurring disagreements with his coach about his diminishing role, the San Antonio Spurs released forward Stephen Jackson on the cusp of the playoffs, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Spurs had threatened the release for several days, but Jackson was still surprised that coach Gregg Popovich carried through with it on Friday, sources said.
Jackson, 35, is making $10 million in the final year his contract. Last weekend, Jackson made headlines by disputing his placement on Forbes' "Most Overpaid" list.
“I’ve been underpaid my whole career,” he said, smiling. “You do the math. It’s adding up. Who cares? Whether they think that or not, I’m still getting paid almost $10 million this year.”
"Captain Jack" was also fined $25,000 by the NBA in December for threatening Thunder forward Serge Ibaka on Twitter.
San Antonio, the Western Conference's current No. 2 seed, trails the Thunder by a half-game with four games to play.