OAKLAND – The coach of one of the teams most impacted without actually being in the trade wanted nothing to do with the conversation. No surprise there. Mark Jackson may have had a board installed at the practice facility to provide players with daily updates on the Western Conference standings, but he has preached the Warriors worrying about the Warriors and not being distracted by events around them.
Even the major events. The Grizzlies, the fourth-place team in the Western Conference, traded their leading scorer to the Raptors on Wednesday, a hit for a team that needs to find offense and not send it away, and fifth-place Golden State almost managed a yawn.
“I have not broken down the Memphis trade yet,” Jackson said. “I am no longer with the media.”
“If we move up one, the four seed is still going to play the five seed,” reserve power forward Carl Landry added, following the script. “Obviously we would have home-field advantage, but we’re just taking one game at a time. We’re not worried about what the Lakers are doing. We’re not worried about what the Sacramento Kings are doing. We’re worried about what the Warriors are doing.”
In actuality, of course, what the Grizzlies are doing could have a major ripple effect well beyond Memphis, Toronto and Detroit, the teams officially involved in the deal that sent Rudy Gay to the Raptors. Because the Warriors and Nuggets were unofficially very much involved.
The risky play by the Grizzlies came with Memphis in fourth place in the West, 1 ½ games ahead of Golden State and Denver, in a virtual tie for fifth. That was on Wednesday. By the time Thursday’s games had ended – Thunder 106, Grizzlies 89 in Oklahoma City and Warriors 100, Mavericks 97 at Oracle Arena – Golden State was feeling energized by the return of Andrew Bogut earlier in the week and also within a half-game of No. 4. The idle Nuggets were one back.
That difference in one spot at the end of the regular season is a giant rung in the standings, of course. The fourth-place team gets home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
Still, there was the company line.
“If they didn’t make the trade,” Jackson said, “I’m still thinking the same exact thing: We’re a very good basketball that people are going to have to deal with. We’ll continue to put wins together, continue to play great, and let the chips fall where they may. We’re not concerned about anybody else.”