Reggie Jackson says he wants to start for Thunder, which sucks when you’re behind Westbrook

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Reggie Jackson really blossomed for Oklahoma City last season — he ran the team well when asked to start, he had career highs of 13.1 points and 4.1 assist per game, he had that key 32-point game against Memphis in the playoffs, and he shot 39.6 percent from three for them in the playoffs. As Thabo Sefalosha faded it was Jackson that filled the gap for OKC.

Jackson wants to be a starter. He says it’s important to him.

There’s just one little problem — Russell Westbrook.

Jackson is good point guard but Westbrook is a Top 10 NBA player (at least, I’d rank him higher) with elite athleticism. Westbrook is a franchise cornerstone, a game changer.

So Jackson, how do you feel about being a sixth man again? Speaking with Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman Jackson emphasized starting was important to him.

“I don’t think about ever coming off the bench for any team. If that’s the role I’m put in, that’s what I’m put in. But since the day I thought about playing in the NBA, I’ve always been a starter. Everything I’ve thought about, whether it be middle school, high school, kids leagues, I never envisioned coming off the bench….

“For some people (starting is) important. To others it’s not. It’s very prideful for me. I feel like I’m very talented. I feel like I can lead a team. That’s just how I’ve been raised and that’s just how I’ve always felt. I want to be the guy in charge. I want to be the guy leading the team. The head of the snake.”

You have to love that attitude and drive in a player. You want a guy motivated like that.

Last season against the Spurs in the playoffs Jackson did start games in the backcourt with Westbrook. That could happen again, right now at the two there is Anthony Morrow and Jeremy Lamb for OKC. Coach Scott Brooks has some options to play around with and see what works.

That said, Reggie I’d like you to meet Kevin Durant. He’s the head of the snake.

Jackson could be a restricted free agent next summer, and if he gets to that stage he might get offers from teams that have a little cap space and see him as the starter. OKC would like to lock Jackson up with an extension, but at what price? Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones will be due raises in a year, plus you have to throw the max at Durant in 2016 and Westbrook in 2017.

Jackson said he saw the deals Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons got this summer — he sees young players getting paid and, of course, he wants to join that group (he’s not a max guy, but he is due a raise). He said he and the Thunder have talked extension (they have until Oct. 31 to get a deal), but it doesn’t sound close.

“We haven’t really talked about it much this summer. I know my representation and the Thunder have been talking. But mostly I haven’t really gotten to talk super much about it. I’ve been busy. I think we’re just trying to figure things out and hopefully we can get a deal done.”

My guess is the market is going to set Jackson’s price as a restricted free agent next summer. And it might be a price the Thunder aren’t willing to match. But only if Jackson has another year of growth in OKC, whether he starts or not.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.