WWRC-1260 Jerry Stackhouse wanted out after last season, but he thought he would remain in Washington, feeling that the knee injury that cost him 54 games would prohibit the Wizards from getting fair value in a trade. But after the Dallas Mavericks dangled forward Antawn Jamison last summer, the Wizards and Stackhouse got they wanted.
"With me being [in the league] 10 years, I was kind of looking for a veteran situation and it worked out for both teams," Stackhouse said before he scored 28 points in the Mavericks' 122-113 victory yesterday. "They got a great player in return and I got in a situation where I feel I can have some postseason play."
Stackhouse spent two seasons in Washington, never providing the playoff lift the Wizards expected after he was acquired from Detroit for Richard Hamilton. He averaged a team-high 21.5 points in his first season, playing alongside Michael Jordan, then he experienced the worst season of his career, averaging a career-low 13.9 points and playing only 26 games.
Stackhouse said he came back too soon from his injury, playing because he thought that, as the team's star, he should. He later announced that he was "shutting it down" in February without consulting Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld or Coach Eddie Jordan. Stackhouse returned, but continued to play poorly.
"When you lose, everybody has an opportunity to poke holes and point fingers," said Stackhouse, who has averaged 20.9 points for his career. "For some odd reason, the guy that missed 60 games had a lot of things pointed at him. For the most part, as a person, you think that's unjust. But as the guy having a prominent role on a team and not being able to help them, I understand it."
Stackhouse said he is in a better place with the Mavericks, a team so deep that he is a reserve. Asked about the Wizards, he said: "They've got some talented players on the team, but experience is a factor in this league. They have a lot of inexperienced guys who have never really won. It's hard to take a big step toward to winning without guys who have really won."
But Stackhouse said he believes that Grunfeld has the Wizards headed in the right direction. "Unfortunately, I think it's going to take a little longer than I was really willing to invest," he said.
-- Michael Lee