The San Antonio Spurs always are looking ahead. Now we know they're looking ahead to the Thunder.
The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday, with no Dwight Howard deal or any other blockbuster. The Lakers' wheeling — Ramon Sessions in, Derek Fisher out — will get the national headlines.
But the Spurs' trade for Stephen Jackson will most impact the upcoming NBA playoffs.
San Antonio traded Richard Jefferson for Jackson, which means an upgrade on the court but a downgrade in chemistry.
Captain Jack is a total headcase and can wreck a franchise with the best of them. The mediocre Milwaukees even removed Jackson from the rotation, before trading him a few days ago.
Jackson went into the stands with Ron Artest during that awful Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004; he was with Kendrick Perkins in Beaumont, Texas, last summer, when whatever happened happened.
But the Spurs' Gregg Popovich has a little Bill Belichick in him. Pop doesn't mind taking on a problem child; Jackson himself helped the Spurs win the 2003 NBA title.
The addition of Jackson gives the Spurs a thorn in the flesh of Kevin Durant, should OKC and San Antonio engage in a playoff series. Jackson is a productive scorer (16.1 points a game, over 12 NBA seasons); not a good shooter (41.6 percent, career).
But the Spurs didn't get Jackson for offense. They got him for defense. The Spurs had no matchup for Durant. Now they do.
Jackson is a big (6-foot-8, 218 pounds), physical defender. That doesn't necessarily mean an edge to the Spurs in a potential Western Conference final. But it does lessen the edge; Durant is in for a rugged fortnight should the Spurs and their Oklahoma City twin meet.
Jackson is not Tony Allen; Durant won't have nightmares trying to free himself from Jackson's clutches. But Jackson can D up on KD. Good move by the Spurs.
Some of the rest of the West beefed up, too, while the Thunder stood pat.
Can't blame Sam Presti. The Thunder has a set hand, with the exception of an experienced backup point guard, and what we saw of James Harden the other night against Houston shows that Harden easily can run the offense when Russell Westbrook sits, or even when he doesn't.
The Thunder is not — I repeat, is NOT — going to do anything to upset the future financial stability of this franchise. Presti regards draft picks and promising but unproven talent — Cole Aldrich, Reggie Jackson — as gold bars.