It’s been a whirlwind of a ride for Pierre Jackson. The Las Vegas native played two years of college ball at Southern Idaho, two at Baylor University, and was a second-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 draft. This is only the start.
On that draft night, Jackson was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the famous Nerlens Noel trade. Throughout all of last season, Pierre Jackson stayed with their D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, never getting called up. This, despite the fact that Jackson was torching the D-League, at one point dropping 58 points in a single game, the most in D-League history:
Jackson would terminate his contract with the Stampede in February and sign with Fenerbahce Ulker, a club in Turkey. He only received minimal playing time while overseas, and he quickly returned stateside.
And then, on draft night of 2014, Jackson was once again traded — back to the Sixers. The team introduced him as a member of their 2014 draft class in a press conference the next day. General manager Sam Hinkie was clearly excited to have Jackson finally be a member of the team, as evidenced by the following exchange two minutes in the video:
PJ: The D-League was one of my stops before I got here, and I just wanted to show NBA personnel that I was capable of playing at this level —
Hinkie: Check. That worked. Good job.
PJ: Yeah, and now that I’ve got the chance I’m going to try to make the most of it.
Like the other draft picks alongside Jackson at the press conference, the Sixers only held Jackson’s rights — he was not actually signed to a contract.
A few weeks later, in early July, Jackson was playing in a Sixer uniform for the first time, already igniting the Summer League with his scoring ability, scoring seven points in his first seven minutes.
And then, on the most innocuous play ever — Jackson didn’t even have the ball, he wasn’t even in contact with his defender, he was just running as part of the offense — when his Achilles’ tendon ruptured. It’s an injury that will sideline Jackson for most, if not all, of the 2014-15 season. Fate, it would seem, was conspiring against Jackson, preventing him from ever seeing an NBA floor.
With the Sixers under no obligation to retain Jackson, the Achilles tear could very well have been the end of the already-convoluted story. Instead, this week, the Sixers have signed Jackson to a one-year minimum deal. A full $400,000 of his $507,336 contract is guaranteed. (Information via shamsports.com.)
There are elements of Jackson’s saga that are totally heartwarming, especially now that he is under contract as a Sixer. Check out Brian Kotloff’s fantastic story at the D-League’s website about how one of Jackson’s former college teammates helped him through the struggle — that teammate being Isaiah Austin, whom Adam Silver famously “drafted” after Austin’s career-ending diagnosis of Marfan Syndrome.
It’s also a good basketball move by the Sixers. Jackson is a dynamic scorer, and the team has no doubt generated some serious goodwill by signing Jackson when they didn’t have to. As the Sixers have shown with the development of Noel and Joel Embiid, they are more than willing to wait for a talented but injured player, and that’s a philosophy that is sure to pay dividends soon.