Reggie Jackson wants out of Oklahoma City. It's about as official as it can be, with Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that Jackson's agent requested a trade roughly 7-10 days ago.
Reggie's request puts Thunder GM Sam Presti in a rather unique position. Simply put, Presti must make a trade before tomorrow's 3 PM EST deadline.
Why? Jackson has made it clear that he wants a major role on this team. Reggie wants to be a starter, get a high volume of shots, and remain on the floor in crunch time. But Sam Presti cannot give Reggie Jackson the role he desires. The numbers tell Presti not to, at every step of the way.
Here's a chart that explains Jackson's season in a nutshell.
I split Jackson's season into three segments. The first segment consisted of 13 of the Thunder's 15 first games of the season. During those games, Jackson got star's minutes and was asked to carry OKC's offense. The second segment of Jackson's season came when he was the second or third star on any given night, while Waiters wasn't around. KD was periodically in and out of the lineup during this time, while Westbrook was always there. This meant that Reggie was guaranteed minutes in crunch time, but wasn't always the first offensive option. The last segment of Jackson's season came after Waiters' arrival back in January. At this point, KD was basically healthy and Waiters became captain of the second team. Thus, Jackson was basically branded a veteran role player. Reggie could take control of the offense if he got hot, but he would generally spend the end of the game riding the pine.
And guess what? By and large, Jackson performed most efficiently during the third part of the season, as a role player. When trusted with larger roles, Jackson was too inconsistent to be viable. Sure, you could point to Jackson's playoff stats over the past two years and try to refute what's happened this season. But Reggie Jackson only worked as a third offensive cog when he was surrounded by shooters. Those guys named Caron Butler, Derek Fisher, and Thabo Sefolosha. All of them were respected at the three point line, while the Thunder are currently running Dion Waiters, Andre Roberson, and Anthony Morrow. Morrow is a shooter for sure, but Waiters and Roberson aren't. The result is tougher defense on Reggie, and less offense for the Thunder.
We can't trade Dion Waiters
I know that we'd all love to get rid of a player that has made little positive contribution on the floor, but the Thunder cannot do so right now. He was acquired within the last 60 days, and
cannot be traded until March, well past the deadline. (Actually, Waiters can be traded, but only by himself. Still, I'd argue that it wouldn't make sense to do so.) OKC gave up a first round pick for Dion, and his stats have been less than inspiring since he joined the Thunder. That means the market for Waiters is probably worse than it has been before, and dishing him now would be accepting a loss on a trade that happened this January. Plus, Waiters is on a very acceptable contract heading into next season, and the Thunder need that.
As for other assets? Obviously KD, Russ, and Ibaka are untouchable. Roberson and Adams are too young to give away. Perk is a good expiring deal, but that means very little in today's NBA, as the salary cap is about to be blown wide open. Losing Collison would be a PR disaster. Morrow is likely a bit overpriced on his current deal, and couldn't fetch good value. And the rest of the bench simply hasn't proven themselves in the eyes of the league.
Who do we go for?
So, here's what Presti has to work with: Jackson ($2.2 Mil), Perk ($9.6 Mil), Lamb/Jones/Smith/Garrett ($3 Mil and under), and potentially a pick.
Ideally, Presti is looking for someone that can directly replace Reggie's role on the bench or otherwise take the offensive reigns from Waiters. The Thunder are flexible enough to take on a wide range of options, so he can't really be too picky.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Thunder are 2.3 million dollars over the salary cap threshold. There's no reason to go into cap stuff here. But it is important to know that the Thunder, as one of the smallest-market teams, would very much like to dip back under the cap before the deadline. In fact, it's very possible that Presti must get under the cap before the deadline, and we don't even know about it yet. Thus, I'd deem any deal much more likely if it includes the Thunder shedding the required amount of salary.
What's on the market?
Right now, it looks like Jackson is the second-hottest point guard on the trade market right now. The bigger name is Goran Dragic, and rightfully so. It seems that the Thunder will likely have to settle for trading with whomever loses the Dragic lottery, making things even tougher on Presti. But however tough Presti might have it, at least he doesn't have it as tough as Suns GM Ryan McDonough. In that situation, Dragic has released a list of preferred destinations, further removing the Suns' buying power. Reggie only has stated that he wants a trade, period.
In any case, let's go through some of the rumors....
Nets remain open to making a move before the deadline, but NBA sources say Brooklyn is not among the teams chasing OKC's Reggie Jackson.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) February 18, 2015
Boo! Lopez could have been fun....
Sources: Indy, Bos, Hou, Den all interested in Reggie Jackson. No guarantee OKC will trade him. They won't give him away.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 18, 2015
Sacramento, Houston, Indiana, Milwaukee, Boston, etc. may pursue Reggie Jackson. Teams that miss on Dragic could turn attention to Jackson.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 18, 2015
That's quite the list. Let's go through these teams one by one....
Obviously Paul George and Roy Hibbert are out of the discussion here, but it's easy to say that anyone else on their roster is available. David West and Luis Scola present interesting options. West's contract is too big to get without Perk though, and the Thunder wouldn't be able to get much else back. However, Scola's contract expires after this year, and gives us much more flexibility....
I know those names don't excite anyone, and that it means the Thunder would likely have to cut Ish Smith. But two of those players are one year removed from a team with serious, deep playoff experience. Furthermore, Scola's back to the basket game is something we haven't seen in Oklahoma City before, and would provide a whole new dimension to the Thunder's offense. And C.J. Watson would be the perfect backup PG, providing a serious three point shot, hard defense, and more than passable distribution skills. C.J. Miles might be the odd man out in the Thunder's rotation, but Presti did try to sign him all the way back in 2008, and he's a great three and D option should the Thunder need him. Lastly, when you consider down the road, Scola and Watson's expiring deals give OKC some serious flexibility heading into next season.
From the Pacer perspective, I think this makes sense too. Reggie Jackson isn't a good defender now, but he has the physical tools to be, and Frank Vogel would be the perfect coach to help him learn that system. I know that Jackson can't necessarily lead an offensive unit by himself, but he's certainly more viable and has more potential than anyone the Pacers have at point guard right now. And Perk expires after this season, like Scola and Watson would have anyway.
The one problem with this whole thing is C.J. Miles' contract. It's pretty much the reason the Pacers would take the deal, because he's not really performing like someone you would want to pay $5 million in four years. And it's not like the Thunder have room for him next to Waiters, Morrow, and the incoming Watson. That would likely mean a battle with Roberson for minutes, since they pretty much perform the same role. Roberson can do little wrong in the eyes of management at this point, so it's hard to say how happy Presti would be about having to pay a 31 year old Miles $4.7 Million in 2017-18. Then again, the salary cap may explode by then, so it's really up in the air.
The Celtics have pretty much depleted their roster of tradeable veterans. The one glaring exception is Brandon Bass, a 28 year old journeyman who likes to use a power game in the post. He could certainly replace Perk's role defensively, and would be a big boost offensively. Assuming that Bradley and Smart are priced too high, here's a reasonable offer centering around Bass....
It's kind of funny that Perk ends up back in Boston, but that's not the real intent of the deal. In essence, OKC makes their bench a bit more flexible. It's likely that Ibaka would spend more time at center, while Bass and Collison would only man the position for short spurts. It would also mean a battle at point guard between Ish Smith and Phil Pressey, but either of them could turn out to be sustainable for 10 minutes a game. Lastly, Jae Crowder probably wouldn't crack the rotation, but is a decent slasher that I wouldn't mind having on the bench at all.
From Boston's perspective, Reggie Jackson gets to return to where he played three years of college ball. He also gets to play in a efficient offense that features a lot of shooters. Boston is 29th in the league when it comes to getting to the line, so Reggie could certainly help provide a new dimension in Boston. And of course, Perk could play a Ben Wallace type role there, coming back to his old team to see them through a new era.
The Rockets have recently made a ton of moves, making it a bit harder to trade with them. Alexey Shved, Corey Brewer, and Josh Smith all cannot be traded before the deadline. Furthermore, the Rockets are competing, so they're less likely to trade with OKC. Still, there are options. Patrick Beverley is there, though there may be too much vitriol between Beverley and Westbrook for them to co-exist. Trevor Ariza is there too, but h'es likely considered a step above Jackson in the eyes of Morey and Rockets fans. The only way the Thunder could get Ariza is by taking a cap hit, and that's not going to happen.
This leaves the Thunder looking at Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas. The Thunder could probably get one of them for Reggie Jackson in a direct swap, but I doubt the Rockets would be willing to part with both.
Neither trade totally alleviates the Thunder of their salary cap concerns, but both trades effectively give OKC another scoring option on the perimeter. Both trades also likely mean the end of Nick Collison's minutes, and some serious pressure put on Ish Smith as backup PG. In the end, I really see this as a value deal. If Houston was willing to deal one on their stretch fours, they probably present the single best player Reggie Jackson is going to fetch, even if he doesn't perfectly fit into the Thunder's rotation.
We've heard the rumors coming out of Denver seemingly forever, but the team has remained firmly pat this season. They're probably on the brink of a deal though, and literally anyone on their roster could go. Denver is unique in that they have no marquee players, yet possess what could be the deepest roster in the entire NBA. Because of the wide range of possibilities I'm going to refrain from trade machining this team. Instead, I will say that Afflalo likely won't come to OKC unless a pick is involved, and that Ty Lawson missed the first Nugget practice after the All-Star break. Make of that what you will, but IMO, that means we could be on the verge of a sweet Lawson-Westbrook combo. I can only dream!
It's well known that the Kings are trying to dish Nik Stauskas (and possibly Jason Thompson) in a deal to get Goran Dragic on their team. Sacramento doesn't seem concerned about Dragic's contact situation, but doesn't have a ton of assets to give up for him. So it's possible that they settle for Jackson. And a direct offer would work....
Question here is, do we really want Nik Stauskas? I honestly haven't watched a ton of Kings games this season, but all I know about him is that he's a shooter with suspect defense. Since he's a "shooter" averaging 32% from the floor, it's extremely unlikely that he'll be able to contribute to the Thunder this season. Presti really doesn't have room to look to the future anymore, so he would likely have to include Thompson and Perk in the deal. It's extremely unlikely that the Thunder would swallow Thompson's bloated contract ($6 Mil/3 Years), so I'm on record as saying that any Kings deal is unlikely. But what you see above is certainly an emergency option.
The Bucks could really do anything at this point. They've got some young assets, but they also have a number of veterans on big contracts. New ownership recently took over the team, so there's no telling what direction they decide to go in. The Bucks are winning games in the weaker East (for now), but they're by no means established, and veterans could certainly go for the right price.
As of right now, Milwaukee's list of vets includes O.J. Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, Zaza Pachulia, and Jared Dudley. Dudley would probably be the most protected among them at the moment, as he's shooting career high marks of 50% from the field and 44% from three. Mayo would probably come next, as he's one of the team's primary ballhandlers offensively and posts more than acceptable stats in all areas. Ilyasova and Pachulia aren't exactly struggling, but they've seen better days on offense and aren't exactly imposing on defense.
Given that info, I think the below trade is most reasonable for both teams....
This trade is the only trade I've done which actually gets OKC back under the cap. In fact, the Bucks are the only interested team that has the contracts and cap room necessary to do so. Boston also has a good amount of cap room, but they don't have a lot of contracts to trade back. (For a full list of teams with cap room right now, click this link and subtract their total payroll from $73.1 Million.)
However, what is ideal financially isn't ideal in reality. O.J. Mayo and Dion Waiters sounds like an absolute ISO-ball nightmare, while Zaza Pachulia would probably form the oldest bench front line in the league with Nick Collison. Sure, both provide an offensive punch, but neither would fit in particularly well with our current personnel. Sure, you could make a case for the Thunder to go for Ilyasova or Dudley. But Ilyasova's contract is bloated, and Dudley's price is probably too high.
Still, on Milwaukee's end, this makes sense. The Bucks aren't exactly in need of three point shooting. The deer are averaging 37.8% from beyond the arc this season, good for third in the NBA. This mean's Reggie's attack-first offense should fit in well, especially at Mayo's current spot. I also think that Perk could do wonders for their bench defense's tenacity, despite the fact that he doesn't possess long arms. And with Jones and Lamb, it's the Eastern Conference, so revitalizing their careers is certainly a possibility for Milwaukee. In any case, this deal clears out a good number of contracts, which the Bucks really want to do.
I can almost guarantee you that not a single trade I cooked up will come close to happening tomorrow. There's just too many possibilities. But what you do see above is an accurate reflection of the market Sam Presti is dealing with right now. There are certainly veterans out there that can help this team, but the Thunder have to decide whether they're going to stay over the cap and get a veteran they want or get back under the cap and take a potential bad egg. Furthermore, there is some young talent out there, but getting it would require handing the bench over to Waiters or giving up more assets.
If it were me, I'd be hard on the phones with teams like Indiana, Denver, and Boston. OKC has to find a way to make their bench work, and they're going to need someone who can compliment Waiters' skillset.
Still, this is Sam Presti we're talking about. He'll probably get some super great deal for a young star that nobody thought was possible.
What do you think Presti will do at the deadline? What would you do? Drop a comment and let us know!