The Detroit Pistons acquired point guard Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline during the 2014-156 season. Jackson quickly settled into his role in Detroit, averaging 17.6 points, 9.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 27 contests with the Pistons.
During the summer of 2015, the Pistons re-signed Jackson to a five-year $80 million deal. The 2015-16 campaign was a career year for Jackson, as the veteran appeared in 79 contests and posted averages of 18.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 43 percent shooting from the floor.
However, last season proved to be a disastrous campaign for Jackson. The guard appeared in only 52 contests, limited by injuries, and averaging 14.5 points and 5.2 assists. With training camp looming, the health of Jackson, battling back from left knee trouble, is one of the primary storylines following the Pistons.
According to Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, Jackson has been given favorable news from doctors and has increased his workouts. Gundy believes Jackson should be available when training camp opens in two weeks.
“All good with the doctors and ramping up [Jackson’s] basketball work,” Van Gundy said according to Detroit Free Press. “He’ll be ready.”
Jackson may report to training camp at full strength, but is the former Boston College standout still the Pistons’ point guard of the future? Last season the Pistons relied heavily on veterans Ish Smith and Beno Udrih to man the point guard position while Jackson was on the mend. Udrih is no longer with the team and Smith is entering the second season of the three-year $18 million deal he signed last summer.
While Smith held his own and showed durability by appearing in 81 games last season, the Pistons aren’t likely to give him the sole keys to the franchise. But Jackson’s name has been mentioned in numerous trade rumors over the past few months and the veteran is considered far from untouchable.
Don’t forget the Pistons also inked guard Langston Galloway to a three-year $21 million deal this summer. Galloway averaged 7.9 points and 1.3 assists in 74 appearances for New Orleans and Sacramento last season. Galloway and Smith don’t possess the upside of Jackson, who has flashed All-Star caliber talent when healthy. But the duo will be paid a combined $12.6 million this season, while Jackson is owed $16 million and an additional $35 million through the 2019-20 campaign.
Keep in mind: Since Van Gundy joined the Pistons, the franchise hasn’t been afraid to move away from young talent and go in a different direction completely.
In 2015, the team allowed center Greg Monroe to depart to Milwaukee in free agency. Monroe was drafted by the franchise in 2010 and had developed into a consistent 15 points and seven rebound type. But the Pistons were reluctant to max him out.
This summer the team also parted ways with an emerging talent in guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The guard ultimately signed a one-year $18 million deal to play in Los Angeles, but most thought Detroit would open up the wallet in order to keep Caldwell-Pope in the fold.
Van Gundy is entering his fourth season in Detroit and has amassed a 113-133 (.459) record with the Pistons. The team reached the playoffs in 2016, posting a 44-38 record, but was swept in the first round by the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Prior to joining Detroit, Van Gundy had never finished below .500 as a head coach dating back to stints with Miami and Orlando.
The Pistons should be better this season. The acquisition of guard Avery Bradley adds perimeter toughness and softens the blow of Caldwell-Pope’s departure. But the Pistons’ fate will ultimately be decided by the man they once signed to a max contract extension. The question heading into the season, is does Detroit view the guard the same way it did back in July 2015?
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