Agent Mark Stevens is in the news again. Back in 2006 he was compared to Drew Rosenhaus when he and another high profile client, Ron Artest, were in a strikingly similar situation. Well he seems to be attempting to follow the same playbook in his most recent attempt to get Stephen Jackson traded out of Golden State.
After publicly stating a desire to be traded back in August and some initial backlash with coach Don Nelson resulting in Jackson being absolved of his duties as captain, things have seemed to quiet down in Golden State. Jackson has been playing without incident and has put up numbers in line with his career averages. Jackson even had a 15 assist night just a few days ago. Golden State is said to have been in talks with up to 10 teams with interest in Jackson and has been attempting to weigh offers and find a reasonable trade. It seemed as if an amiable end is possible after this falling out.
Then Jackson’s agent, Mark Stevens, decided to publicly insult Coach Don Nelson in an obvious effort to speed up the process of getting his client traded. Whether or not Stephen Jackson had known Stevens was going to publicly insult his coach, we will never know, but this seems all too familiar territory for Stevens and seems to be a well thought out plan (or not so well thought out depending on your point of view). Could this be Stevens’ way of speeding up the trade process, while attempting to deflect some of the blame from Jackson, who already has character issues and a bit of a troubled history in the league?
Where I take issue with the strategy is that now GMs are not only concerned with dealing for a player who is going to publicly bad mouth them or the team, they are going to be dealing for a player whose agent will publicly bad mouth the organization. That is certainly not the type of thing an agent would like to develop a reputation for. Maintaining a positive dialogue with the organization would certainly increase the odds of a mutually beneficial resolution. Stevens’ strategy may result in Golden State choosing to eliminate the headache and the contract by trading Jackson for little in return, which could result in Jackson ending up with another non-contender…which is why he originally wanted out of GS.
It remains to be seen how the whole situation will play out; however, the bigger question is when, if ever, as an agent, is it beneficial to make inflammatory comments about a client’s coach, team or management? While this may be the strategy that some choose to use, in the long run respectable, private negotiations seem to be the best avenue for accomplishing the goals of all parties involved. We have seen many a case in which an unhappy player and agent try to force their way out of a situation, but they very seldom work out positively for all sides.
*Note: Ron Artest is no longer represented by Mark Stevens and Stevens does not have any other NBA clients.