Detroit Pistons: The case for trading Reggie Jackson

Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images /

The Detroit Pistons are going through an identity shift. Reggie Jackson may not fit in that new identity, so they would be wise to move him while they can.

Reggie Jackson was viewed as a super sub turned future All-Star when he was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Detroit Pistons. Due to injuries and other factors, Jackson has reached the ceiling of what he will become in Detroit. With younger, higher upside players on the depth chart behind him, the Pistons should consider trading him. Due to the Golden State Warriors and other super-teams’ dominance, the Pistons should dive into a mini-rebuild.

The team traded several major assets for Blake Griffin last season, which suggests it views him as part of the future. Andre Drummond still has at least two, possibly three seasons under contract. Jackson comes off the books after the 2019-20 season. Entering his age-30 season, he’ll be looking to move towards a contender and the Pistons may still be a year or two away. They are content to let their young pieces develop under their new head coach.

Jackson possesses value due to the fact that his contract isn’t an obscene overpay for competent play. Teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic lack strong play at the point guard position. They also could be looking to speed up their respective rebuilds and clearing up some of their positional logjams. Trading Jackson would free up cap space, while also allowing someone like Bruce Brown Jr. to receive valuable developmental minutes.

Brown has the potential to be the future of the Pistons at the point guard position. He is already a two-way force, but he showed the ability to be a better offensive orchestrator than Jackson. The Pistons are moving towards a team built in Casey’s mold with the Toronto Raptors. That means they will continue adding shooters. The best way for Brown to develop will be to receive more minutes, and the absence of Jackson will help there.

Ish Smith has developed into a starting-level point guard in recent years. This is his final season under contract. However, if the team were to trade Jackson, they could easily and wisely afford to bring Smith back in. He would give Brown a good point guard to develop under, while capably running the offense. At 30 years old, he won’t be a part of the team’s long-term plans. However, he has represented an upgrade over Jackson in recent years.

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Per Basketball-Reference, Smith has had a higher VORP the past two seasons than Jackson. Some teams may view Jackson as that one piece to put them over the top. When he’s cooking, he does have the ability to be a top-15 NBA point guard. The Pistons could gain a valuable young piece to add to their core that they are starting to build. Even if they have to take a net loss on star power, getting role players to fill in beside their other stars would be a win.

The Pistons won’t be competing for a title this or next season. Jackson’s value, when healthy, can net them more shooting to put around Griffin. The hope is that they will be making the playoffs this season, and they can get pieces to help them improve their chances. While they may have to sacrifice a player like Stanley Johnson or someone else to get a team to take Jackson’s contract, it’d be worth it for some of the players they could add.

Jackson is an above-average point guard when healthy and playing well. Unfortunately for the Pistons, his fit with this team just doesn’t work in today’s NBA. Griffin and Drummond need as much spacing around them as possible. Jackson also needs as much spacing around him. If he could end up playing in a city like Phoenix, that has multiple shooters already, it’d be a good fit. The team could get back a 3-and-D wing, which the Suns have an abundance of.

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The Pistons are going through an identity shift and there are going to be casualties of that change. Jackson will be one of those casualties. The team would be wise to get something for him while they can before they let him walk for nothing in two years. The Pistons don’t have to trade him before the season starts, as they can let the team develop some chemistry and let Jackson build his value. If they receive the right offer though, the Pistons would be wise to send it through.